Any life event that makes you feel endangered, threatened or at risk can be traumatic, causing higher-than-average stress levels that disrupt your daily life. Survivors of one-time or ongoing trauma may experience several psychological and physical side effects.
Depending on factors such as the event’s severity, the support you receive and other stressors present in your life, these reactions may subside on their own as part of your natural healing process. However, some people struggle to come to terms with trauma and may develop a mental health issue called post-traumatic stress disorder that can follow them for years after the event.
Trauma’s Effects on Your Health
Trauma can erode your sense of safety, security and trust in others. After experiencing a shocking or terrifying incident, many people develop an elevated fight-or-flight response that makes them agitated or nervous. In addition, traumatized people often have trouble concentrating and may feel chronically fatigued or numb.
If the following symptoms of trauma have begun to interfere with your everyday life and continue for at least a month, you may receive a PTSD diagnosis.
- Avoidance: Finding excuses to steer clear of people, places or things that may trigger memories of the traumatic occurrence
- Reliving the event: Having intrusive flashbacks, upsetting thoughts or recurring nightmares
- Anxiety and over-reactivity: Insomnia, being on edge, startling easily or experiencing angry outbursts
- Cognition and mood: Feelings of guilt, negative self-esteem, memory issues or loss of interest in previously enjoyable activities
Ways to Improve Your Mental Well-Being
If you feel overwhelmed or exhausted in the wake of trauma, here are some techniques you can use to manage your mental health.
- Avoid “doomscrolling:” Some people try to gain a sense of control over an unpredictable or scary situation by gathering as much information as they can. However, if your PTSD relates to a specific event like a natural disaster, try not to consume too much news coverage about it. Practice setting healthy boundaries around your social media use.
- Eat a balanced diet: Some foods provide natural mood-boosting benefits by affecting your brain chemistry and improving your overall health.
- Spend time outdoors: Being outside in the fresh air and sunshine is an excellent way to feel happier and more optimistic.
- Seek support: Mental health conditions like PTSD can make you want to hide from the world, but pushing others away won’t benefit you in the long run. If you are struggling, it’s OK to ask your family and friends for help. You can also look for a PTSD support group to forge new relationships with people who understand what you’re going through.
The Connection Between PTSD and Substance Abuse
There is an unmistakable correlation between PTSD and substance use disorders. For trauma survivors, drugs and alcohol may feel like a way to escape PTSD symptoms and ease their pain. However, stress levels will gradually increase again as the effects of the substance wear off, and PTSD can also intensify withdrawal until it becomes challenging to quit drinking or using on your own.
Since PTSD and addiction can magnify each other, it’s essential to seek help for both conditions simultaneously. A trained clinician can identify the signs of a co-occurring disorder and develop a treatment plan to improve your mental health.
California Drug Rehab and Trauma Treatment
Many clients who come to Hope by the Sea are struggling with untreated mental health problems alongside a substance use disorder. To learn more about our treatment options or verify your insurance coverage, contact our admissions team today.