POLICE ASSOCIATION OF NOVA SCOTIA 111 POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER (PTSD): ALL AGES The two of you should agree at the beginning that this plan makes sense for you and what you will do if it does not seem to be working. If you have any questions about the treatment your therapist should be able to answer them. You should feel comfortable with your therapist and feel you are working as a team to tackle your problems. It can be difficult to talk about painful situations in your life, or about traumatic experiences that you have had. Feelings that emerge during therapy can be scary and challenging. Talking with your therapist about the process of therapy, and about your hopes and fears in regards to therapy, will help make therapy successful. If you do not like your therapist or feel that the therapist is not helping you, it might be helpful to talk with another professional. In most cases, you should tell your therapist that you are seeking a second opinion. Self-Help Strategies for PTSD •Make sure you are safe. First of all, make sure that you are no longer in danger, and that you are safe! For example, if your trauma is from abuse or violence in the home, then get help first in getting to safety. Speak to your doctor or contact an emergency shelter. •Educate yourself about PTSD. Because the symptoms of PTSD (nightmares, flashbacks and feeling that you are reliving the trauma) are so distressing, people with PTSD often worry that they are going crazy. Relax - you are not going crazy. The problem is rather that you have anxiety because of a traumatic event. Fortunately, there are coping skills (in addition to treatment) that can help cope with this anxiety. • Take good care of yourself. When under stress, sometimes we neglect our sleep, proper nutrition or exercise. So make sure that you are 1) getting enough sleep, 2) eating a healthy diet with at least three healthy meals a day, and 3) getting regular exercise. Common anxiety strategies for relaxing the body • Deep Breathing: When people get anxious, their breathing tends to quicken, which further worsens the situation. • Progressive Muscle Relaxation: If you are feeling tense and jumpy, progressive muscle relaxation is a way of relaxing your body. • Grounding Techniques: Grounding is a way of bringing your body back to the present, particularly if you are having flashbacks and losing touch with the present. Grounding works by re-setting and focusing your attention on the present. Examples: •Touch objects around you, and describe them (texture, colour). For example, "I'm sitting on the couch, and it’s very soft and comfortable. I'm smelling my coffee and I'm hearing the television." •Run water over your hands, and describe aloud how it feels. •Name all the different types of animals you can think of (e.g., dog, cat, chicken, cow, etc...) •Count backwards from 100 •Say the alphabet backwards ►