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PTSD Anxiety and Stress: What Does It Take to Live with It?

Originally published on ThriveGlobal.com

PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) is a difficult condition caused by one or more traumatic experiences. Its symptoms can vary greatly. For example, agoraphobia is as likely of a symptom as claustrophobia. PTSD has the potential to make any social situation disastrous, and social anxiety in those who have PTSD is not at all uncommon.

Anxiety, terror, panic attacks, inability to focus, lack of motivation, depression, bouts of uncontrollable tears, disconnection with basic feelings, lack of concern for basic human needs (food, sleep, etc.), sudden mood shifts, obsessive thoughts, wandering thoughts, haunting flashbacks, powerlessness, and the feeling of hopelessness are all symptoms of PTSD.

PTSD is a very dangerous condition because it leaves those who have untreated PTSD in an extremely vulnerable state of mind. This could lead to drug use or other expressions of harmful behaviors that have the potential to lead to violent situations. 

If you suffer from PTSD, it's crucial that you reach out to a professional as soon as possible. Whatever events or circumstances caused or contributed to your PTSD, there is someone who understands and is qualified to help you sort through your seemingly endless emotions and racing thoughts caused by your condition. It's the only way to process the events that led to your current emotional state so that you can start on a path of emotional recovery.

Not all counselors and psychologists have had traumatizing experiences. Quite often, though, specialty service professional groups like veterans, addicts, domestic violence and sex crime survivors, and more are at least partially comprised of people who have had similarly terrifying experiences that allow them to relate to you as few can. Don't let that diminish the fact, though, that a qualified therapist doesn't necessarily have to have experienced the same thing as you to be able to listen to you with compassion and methodically guide you to the answers that are already inside you.

Attending support groups is another great option that can either be 'in addition to' or 'instead of' regular counseling. While there might be one or more facilitators (depending on the size and structure of the group) who may or may not hold a professional degree, the group itself consists of people with experiences similar to yours who are collectively trying to recover and move toward a life of freedom from the bondage of a past that still incites anxiety and a host of other devastating emotions.

One of the best things about attending a support group is that you get the opportunity to hear other people's perceptions of things. They may be entirely different than your own, and you may find that having another outlook presented was exactly what you needed to help provide closure, or acceptance, or whatever it is that you needed at the time to 'shed that layer’ and grow closer to your higher self. 

If anonymity is what you seek, you can find a suitable outlet online or even on the phone. Many organizations or causes have hotlines which are generally tended to by volunteers who are survivors of trauma similar to yours.

You may believe you can 'think' your way out of the stress that's increasing in your life. Perhaps you feel that your situation is so complex that nobody could understand. That may very well be true. Only you will ever truly know the reality of how your experiences made you feel. There may be numerous reasons that you're able to convince yourself that you don't need treatment right now, but the truth is that PTSD won't stop negatively impacting your life until you take proactive steps to recover from the tragedy or tragedies that caused it. 

You are not alone with PTSD, and every long journey starts with only a single step.

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