• 3 Ways for Veterans to Cope with a PTSD Diagnosis

    by Matthew Goldenberg, D.O.
    on Oct 5th, 2016

I am very excited to share an original article written by a reader of my blog. Julia, a retired RN, reached out to me regarding her passion for helping veterans with PTSD. I share her desire to help our veterans and so I was eager to share her article with you. What follows are great suggestions to help improve your quality of life if you are suffering from PTSD, whether you are a veteran or a civilian.

**Guest Author: Julia Merrill

Learning that you have Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) evokes a different reaction from each person. Some are unsurprised based on their symptoms while other may struggle with facing the fact that they have a mental disorder. Regardless, handling your new diagnosis is difficult and will take some time to adjust to.

With the associated risks that come with PTSD for veterans or for anyone with a PTSD diagnosis, it is important that you learn to cope with the disorder in a positive way. Here are a few ways you can start to come to terms with PTSD and start regaining control of your life.

1) Reach Out to Loved Ones 

Social isolation is one of the most common consequences of a PTSD diagnosis arising from the symptoms of the disorder, particularly among veterans who struggle with PTSD. The fear of experiencing an episode prevents the person from venturing into public spaces as well as spending time with loved ones. They may also feel shame for their disorder and feel the need to hide from loved ones. It is critical that you reach out for support from friends and family; they often want to help but don’t know how to do so.

Whether you feel more comfortable going to a support group or asking family for help, you need to find other people to rely on. Isolation very easily leads to self-medication, addiction, depression, and suicidal thoughts. By simply seeking support, you may be saving yourself months or even years of addiction recovery.

2) Find a Counselor You are Comfortable With

Receiving proper treatment is the next step for someone who has just been diagnosed with PTSD. Without treatment, the symptoms will only worsen, and the condition will become more unmanageable.

Seeking a counselor with experience in PTSD is very important. Find someone you are comfortable with and let them guide you through the process of readjusting. They may prescribe you medication or stick with talk therapy but whatever they decide is going to make your life better.

3) Cultivate Healthy Daily Routines

Learning how to live better and cope in a positive way is essential in people with PTSD. A number of good habits can be hugely beneficial for everyday life. For example, eating a well-rounded diet that eliminates nutritional gaps can boost mood and fight depression. Meditating regularly can help reduce anxiety and depression as well as stress.

Regular exercise boosts moods and reduces negative emotions. If you can cultivate habits such as these, you will notice a significant reduction in the symptoms of PTSD.

It is also critical to learn how to cope in a healthy way. When depression or negative emotions occur, you should be able to cope by picking up a hobby, meditating, calling a trusted person, or any other number of positive coping tactics.

Learning that you have PTSD is certainly not the end of life as you know it. Like any change in your life, it simply requires adjustment. You need to learn how to treat and cope with the symptoms of the disorder which can be difficult at first. However, if you reach out for the help of loved ones and a professional counselor, the adjustment becomes easier. So learn some positive coping tactics, reach out, and get help. Life will feel normal again in no time.

Julia Merrill is a retired nurse on a mission. She wants to use information to close the gap between medical providers and their patients. She started BefriendYourDoc.org to do just that. The site offers an abundance of information from tips on finding the right medical care to help with dealing with insurance companies to general health and wellness advice and more.

Author Matthew Goldenberg, D.O. Matthew Goldenberg D.O. is double Board Certified in Psychiatry and Addiction Psychiatry and is a certified Medical Review Officer (MRO). He is an expert in the evaluation and treatment of mental health disorders and is an addiction specialist for adults in his private practice in Santa Monica, California. Dr. Goldenberg also provides addiction psychiatry consultations to some of the nation’s top residential and outpatient treatment programs in the Los Angeles area and is experienced in the evaluation and treatment of professionals working in safety-sensitive positions. In addition to his clinical work, Dr. Goldenberg is an active author, researcher and invited speaker at local and national conferences. He also volunteers his time as a Clinical Instructor in the Department of Psychiatry at UCLA and is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Cedars Sinai Medical Center.

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