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How to Improve Sleep Hygiene for Better Mental Health

How to Improve Sleep Hygiene for Better Mental Health

When most people hear the word hygiene, they tend to think of taking regular showers and keeping their surroundings clean and in order. When the term is paired with sleep, however, people often say they were unaware of hygienic standards for sleep. This is probably because people don’t consider sleep as a metric of health. Unfortunately, sleep is far more important and susceptible to misaligned patterns than we may think. Sleep hygiene is a combination of behavioral and environmental patterns that address repeated or chronic instances of poor sleep. These undesirable sleep patterns can look like insomnia or hypersomnia and there are different methods of adjustment for each. These can and should be looked at separately in order to effectively address treatment options for each.

What is Insomnia?

Insomnia is a pattern of disordered sleep that is identified by marked trouble falling asleep or staying asleep throughout the cycle. This difficulty sleeping can be either transient, acute or chronic. Transient insomnia lasts anywhere from one night to four weeks. Acute insomnia lasts anywhere from two to four weeks and is identified by a return to regular sleep. If the symptoms persist for longer than two months at a time, it becomes identified as chronic insomnia.

Along with little amounts of sleep and poor quality of sleep, additional symptoms of insomnia include daytime fatigue, forgetfulness and irritability as well as upward or downward trends in eating. All types of insomnia, from transient to chronic, have the propensity to bear similar root causes. These can include recent stress, chronic anxiety and/or depression, ADHD nighttime environments that are not conducive to good sleep as well as personal life habits like substance use or an unstable work-life balance.

What is Hypersomnia?

Conversely, hypersomnia refers to another kind of disordered sleep. Hypersomnia is the term used to discuss excessive daytime sleepiness or an excess of time spent sleeping. People dealing with hypersomnia have a hard time staying awake through obligations and activities. They may experience daytime fatigue that feels insurmountable, even while sleeping thoroughly at night. Symptoms of hypersomnia include a lack of energy to persist through the day, falling asleep at inappropriate times (such as during work or while driving) and excessive tiredness, all while getting adequate or extensive amounts of sleep at night.

Hypersomnia can be caused by prolonged use of certain substances, mood disorders (like major depressive disorder or bipolar disorder) as well as it can be a response to acute stress or depression. The metric that ties these symptoms and causes together in order to identify hypersomnia is the acknowledgment of regular to excessive amounts of sleep at night that offer no reprieve from fatigue. Excessive drowsiness can also be a response to acute sleep deprivation in a table of need and supply commonly referred to as sleep debt.

With the human brain and body needing a minimum of six hours of sleep every night for optimal function, there are consequences for brain function if this minimum is not met once, let alone repeatedly. If someone repeatedly gets insufficient sleep, they enter what is known as sleep debt wherein their inadequate amounts of rest begin to affect their daily ability to function. Many people respond to instances of sleep debt with excessive sleeping to treat the fatigue they are experiencing as a result of inadequate sleep.

With the recognition of resultant issues like sleep debt, it becomes clear how insomnia and hypersomnia can be connected and interrelated. Transient or acute insomnia can result in hypersomnia as the body tries to acquire the amount of rest necessary for function. However, sleep debt is likely to increase if the body gets into alternating patterns of insufficient and excessive sleep. The consideration of sleep as a necessary element of health becomes evident when you consider how overall function is affected by both insomnia and hypersomnia. Regarding healthy sleep patterns as an inextricable part of self care becomes essential for the general health of the brain and body. Regulating sleep patterns is a very important part of overall function and this can be done by cultivating good sleep hygiene habits.

Ways to Improve Your Sleep Hygiene

● Limiting nighttime screen time – Doctors recommend relinquishing screens for brain health at least thirty minutes before one intends to fall asleep. The lack of stimulation as well as the lack of bright screen lights can help the brain to wind down in preparation for sleep.

●  Eating properly and at regular times – Acknowledging and responding to the body’s hunger cues in ideal intervals can help to contribute to healthy sleep patterns by following suggested digestive times. Eating should stop for the day at least an hour before one intends to fall asleep so digestion can end before sleep therefore not interrupting the sleep cycle.

●  Seeing a professional – If symptoms of insomnia or hypersomnia persist even with the changing of individual life patterns, it may be time to see a doctor. Insomnia is often treated with anti-anxiety medication or prescribed sedatives that act as a sleep aid. Hypersomnia can also be treated with antidepressants or prescribed stimulants for energy throughout the day.
While poor sleep hygiene is extremely common, it can also have long-term negative impacts on brain and body health. If you find that you are sleeping too much or too little, it is essential to try to stick to routine patterns of sleep and waking in order to avoid falling into dangerous patterns of insomnia or hypersomnia. Help is possible and rest can be acquired.

When you’re ready to take the next step, contact us to schedule your first session.

How To Prioritize Self-Care As A Black Woman

How To Prioritize Self-Care As A Black Woman

As a Black woman, I see a lot of messaging that praises our strength, resilience and selflessness. The strong Black woman is characterized by her independence, emotional restraint and ability to meet the needs of others. She is expected to put on a smile as she navigates the difficulties that inevitably come with existing as a Black woman in a society that values maleness and whiteness. The strong Black woman is certainly a more positive archetype of black femininity than the stereotypes of the distant past. Yet it still results in unreasonable and harmful expectations being placed on us – both by ourselves and by everyone around us. 

Because we are often so focused on being resilient and selfless, we are more likely to neglect self-care.

Why Black women are more likely to neglect self-care

Self-care can be difficult for everyone, but Black women are perhaps most likely to neglect it. Due to socioeconomic factors, we are more likely to face hindrances when it comes to finding the time and money to invest in self-care. “Time poverty” refers to having little or no time to spend on yourself and the things you want or need to do. This is usually due to the overwhelming obligations of work, family and home life. In the United States, women of color are more likely to work multiple jobs and to be responsible for most of the unpaid labor in the home. For single parents and caregivers, there is often little time left to invest in self-care after meeting the needs of everyone else. Rest and relaxation can be elusive for Black women, and we are more likely to be sleep deprived and to experience sleep apnea.

Black women have the highest rate of labor force participation and are more likely to work multiple jobs or overtime hours. 80% of Black mothers are the sole, primary or co-breadwinner for their household. When it comes to finances, Black women tend to have less disposable income than other demographics. Black women earn 63 cents for every dollar earned by a White man, compared to the 79 cents earned by White women. Half of Black women are of the view that their race will make to harder for them to advance in the workplace. Black women disproportionately work lower-income domestic and caregiving jobs, which offer little in the way of benefits and paid time off. With less time and money, self-care often gets pushed to the back burner.

Many Black women have been socialized into toxic productivity. As girls, we’re more likely than our White counterparts to assume caretaking or housekeeping roles in the home. We are also under increased pressure to perform academically and in the workplace, having been caused to believe that we have to be “twice as good to achieve half as much.” The research backs this up, with statistics showing that Black women work longer hours and occupy a higher percentage of the overall workforce.

Unique Challenges Faced by Black Women

Black women stand at the intersection of  gender-based and race-based discrimination. As a result, we face many challenges not faced by men and women of other races. As a woman of color, it’s not uncommon to deal with microaggresions and misogynoir in the workplace, in social environments, and online. Black women are constantly being scrutinized for their hair, body shape, skin tone and the way we express ourselves, leading to increased rates of body dysmorphia and low self-esteem.

A research study concluded that Black women are more likely to experience stress-related accelerated biological aging. Researchers believe that this demographic faces consistent or prolonged stressors, which can speed up the body’s aging process. Physical signs of premature aging include grey hair, hair loss, wrinkles and painful joints. Accelerated aging can also cause memory and vision problems, as well as decreased energy levels.

Racial trauma is real and it can have long-lasting effects. Also known as race-based traumatic stress, it is the after-effects of exposure to racism and other forms of race-based discrimination. When people are subjected to violence, unfair treatment or microagressions because of their racial background, the effects can be similar to symptoms experienced by people living with post-traumatic stress disorder. In the workplace, Black women face micro aggressions, barriers to advancement and the constant pressure to outperform their peers.

There are several health conditions and lifestyle diseases that disproportionately affect Black women. We are more likely to experience heart disease, stroke and diabetes, all of which can be caused or exacerbated by stress. 

Ways to prioritize self care as a Black Woman 

While the general tenets of self-care are applicable to Black women, there are some more specific ways that we can address the unique challenges we face on a daily basis. Personally, I try to be intentional about limiting my intake of triggering media and news stories. While it’s important to be informed, overconsumption can have a traumatic effect. When stories of police brutality and racism are dominating the news feeds, it’s okay to check out.

Another thing I strive to do is consuming media that portrays Black women in positive and inspirational roles. Representation is important. Movies, TV shows and books about Black characters can be a joyful and healing experience. Finally, it’s important to set boundaries regarding racially-charged conversations. Remind yourself that you do not have to take on the role of educating others about social justice issues. You do not have to participate in conversations that you find uncomfortable or triggering.

During Black History Month, we celebrate the achievements and contributions that Black people have made to the world. This time of year also causes us to look towards the future wellbeing of our community. When Black women take better care of ourselves, we’re able to contribute more at home, at work and in the world. 

4 Types Of Self-Care You May Be Neglecting

4 Types Of Self-Care You May Be Neglecting

In a fast-paced world where others are depending on us, it’s easy to neglect our own needs. However, it’s important to remember that you can’t show up as your best self if your needs haven’t been taken care of. By neglecting self-care, we are not only doing ourselves a disservice, we’re also less able to serve the people in our lives or perform well at work.

By now, you’re probably well aware that self-care is more than just your skincare routine or a trip to the salon. Self-care has been described as “taking care of yourself so that you can be healthy, you can be well, you can do your job, you can help and care for others.” Real self-care isn’t about escaping the stresses of life. Rather, it’s about doing the things that are necessary to create a life you don’t need to escape from. This often requires doing things you may not want to do, to reduce future stresses and to make life easier in the long run. It may require difficult or uncomfortable tasks, habits, or conversations.

Are you taking a holistic approach to your self-care? Here are four aspects of self-care that are commonly overlooked or neglected.

Financial Self-Care

In a recent survey, almost 75% of Americans ranked finances as the most significant source of anxiety in their lives. For millennials and Gen Z’ers, there is an even greater likelihood of financial stress, given the harsh economic climate they were forced to come of age in. Millennials are more likely to be in debt, and less likely to have savings than Baby Boomers did in their 20’s and 30’s.

Financial self-care means doing the things that are necessary to reduce your likelihood of experiencing anxiety related to your money. This can include setting a budget, tracking your finances, reviewing your statements, and setting financial goals. Establishing an emergency fund can help ease anxiety because you’ll know that you can handle anything that may unexpectedly arise. By taking the time to keep your finances in order, you’re less likely to be stressed out by them. Financial stability brings a sense of ease and comfort.

Practical Self-Care

Practical self-care consists of the tasks that will help your life to run more smoothly. When these things are in place, you’re better able to show up as your best self for the people in your life. Practical self-care can look different for everyone, depending on their needs and lifestyle. Someone who has a tendency to skip meals during busy workdays may benefit from meal prepping and packing a lunch bag to take to work. Those who struggle to make decisions in the mornings may benefit from selecting their outfit the night before, to reduce the possibility of stress tomorrow. Consider the situations in your life that tend to cause the most stress and put practical measures in place to make things easier for yourself.

Other examples of practical self-care include taking care of laundry, cleaning, and other household tasks, getting your car serviced, and optimizing your electronic devices.

Spiritual Self-Care

Spiritual self-care includes those activities that nurture your spirit and help you to find meaning in the world. For some people, this includes practicing a religion, but there are many other examples of spiritual self-care. Practicing meditation, yoga, or spending time in nature can help to bring a sense of oneness with the world around you. Take the time to unplug from technology and read inspiring books or articles. Other examples of spiritual self-care include practicing gratitude, creating a vision board, dedicating time for self-reflection and journaling.

Professional Self-Care

Work is a big part of our lives and can affect our overall wellbeing. Finding fulfillment in your work and reducing work-related stressors are important for your mental and emotional health. Day-to-day examples of professional self-care include using tools and resources to improve your efficiency and productivity. Evaluate your workload to ensure you aren’t taking on more than you can handle. Take breaks throughout the workday to avoid getting burned out. Maintaining good relations with your coworkers also leads to a more fulfilling work life.

More “big picture” examples of professional self-care include taking professional courses, attending seminars or pursuing new qualifications or skills. Assess your long-term career goals and determine whether you are on the path to attaining those goals. By doing what’s necessary to get to a place of fulfillment in your work, you’ll reduce your stress and be better able to spend time with loved ones or pursue personal goals.

Self-Care and Balance

Stress can affect both your mental and physical health. In addition to increased depression, anxiety and substance abuse, stress can also lead to high blood pressure, insomnia, stomachaches and can even affect the menstrual cycle and immune system. When we’re stressed, we tend to be more irritable or quick to anger, which can impact our relationships. By neglecting certain aspects of self-care, we are likely to experience stress-related to those same areas of life. For example, when we neglect financial self-care, we are more likely to be stressed out by bills and missed payments.

By creating more balance in your life, you will notice a reduction in your stress. Prioritizing self-care allows you to balance the various facets of your life, for a feeling of holistic wellbeing. Although it may sound easy, it can be quite challenging to establish consistent self-care habits in your life. By working with a therapist, you’ll have expert guidance and support, which can hold you accountable as you seek to prioritize self-care and reduce stress. The therapists at Flourish Psychology can guide you in developing the skills needed to reduce stress in the moment and long-term.

Contact us to schedule your first session.

This Is How We’re Coping with Uncertainty in 2022

This Is How We’re Coping with Uncertainty in 2022

In 2022, coping with uncertainty can feel impossible. The future has never been certain, but for those of us living through a global pandemic, it’s even more uncertain than ever. Even though we’ve just started a brand new year, COVID-19 is far from being over. Over 58 million Americans have tested positive for the virus, and numbers continue to rise as the Omicron variant sweeps through the country. 

Besides causing uncertainty with regard to our health and the health of our loved ones, COVID-19 has impacted us in so many ways. We may be facing uncertainty regarding living situations, relationships, jobs, and finances. Scientists still aren’t quite sure how much longer we’ll be tackling the virus and most of us have accepted that there’s no “going back to normal” after this. 

This kind of uncertainty can have a detrimental effect on our mental health.  Anxiety is often triggered by uncertainty because we naturally have a deep desire for a sense of control over our lives. Uncertainty causes us to feel out of control, which can cause paranoia, panic, and stress. 

How NOT to Cope with Uncertainty

Before we dive into our strategies for dealing with uncertainty, let’s touch on some of the unhealthy ways. If left unchecked, our efforts to cope with anxiety can be harmful to us or those around us. For example, obsessing or ruminating is a common response to uncertainty. You may find yourself fixating on the subject of your anxiety, constantly seeking updates or spending lots of time researching the issue. You may even find yourself micromanaging the people around you as a means of coping with your feelings of uncertainty. 

Procrastination is another common method of coping with uncertainty. Being unable to predict the outcome of your actions can cause you to delay those actions altogether. You may avoid an important conversation because you aren’t sure what the other person will say. You may avoid looking at your bank statements because you feel a sense of uncertainty regarding the management of your finances. We covered strategies for reducing procrastination in a previous blog post. 

Coping with Uncertainty by Developing a Routine

During times of uncertainty, it’s more important than ever to develop solid routines. Our daily routines are, for the most part, within our control and we should make them as supportive as possible. Your daily routines provide you with a sense of structure and stability in an otherwise unpredictable world.

Consider developing a morning routine to begin your days on a positive note. Try not to pack too many things into your routine and be sure to give yourself some flexibility. Your routine should help to support you, not control you. A simple morning routine can include a few minutes of stretching, making a cup of tea or coffee and making your bed. 

Find Ways to Stay Grounded

Being grounded means having a sense of stability in your life. We all have those moments where we don’t even know what day it is and everything feels out of control. Being grounded means that (despite whatever challenges you’re facing), you’re able to be at peace in the present moment. There are many simple exercises you can do throughout your days to feel more grounded. A five-minute breathing exercise brings a sense of calm and control when emotions are running high. Take a mindful walk and observe your surroundings. 

What does it take for you to feel grounded? For some, it’s having a clean and tidy environment. For others, it’s ensuring their bills are paid on time. These more practical tasks are beneficial for your mental health because you’ll be able to remain present without worrying about overdue or overlooked obligations. 

Make Self-Care a Priority 

During times of uncertainty, it can be easy for self-care to fall to the wayside. We may find ourselves not keeping up with things like therapy or doctor’s appointments, forgetting to take medication, and not sleeping enough. Other examples of neglecting self-care include forgetting to eat or consuming foods with little nutritional value, neglecting hygiene or overworking ourselves to the point of burnout. 

Be deliberate about self-care. If it helps, set reminders on your phone to remind you to perform acts of self-care such as having a meal, staying hydrated or attending to your hygiene. Maintaining a healthy sleep schedule, eating nutritious foods and moving your body daily are essential. 

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

If you’re having difficulties coping with uncertainty, it helps to talk to a trusted friend or loved one. It’s always good to have someone to rely on during difficult times. Feeling supported can bring a greater sense of control over a situation, while a lack of support leaves you feeling alone and overwhelmed. Your friend may be able to offer another perspective, solutions or emotional support. 

Seeking help from a therapist is an excellent way to cope with the uncertainty of these times. Since the start of the pandemic, the demand for mental health services has steadily increased. The clinicians at Flourish Psychology do more than just provide a safe space for expressing your fears. Therapists are trained and qualified in various treatment methods for reducing or eliminating anxiety and other mental health conditions. 

By working with a therapist, you’ll also learn important skills for managing your emotions. By mastering cognitive and dialectical behavioral skills, you’ll be better equipped to handle challenges as they arise in your daily life. Despite the uncertainty around you, you’ll be able to cultivate a feeling of calm, control and stability. Contact us to schedule your first session. 

Lessons About Burnout from Olympic Athletes

Lessons About Burnout from Olympic Athletes

Before the French Open earlier this year, Japanese tennis phenom Naomi Osaka announced that she would not be conducting her mandatory media assignments. Citing mental health issues, Osaka did not participate in press conferences and other interactions with the media. She was fined and threatened with expulsion from the tournament. Shortly after, she announced that she would be withdrawing from the competition, again citing mental health issues. In mid-June, she announced (via her agent) that she would not be participating in the upcoming Wimbledon Championships. Naomi was experiencing burnout.

In the last week of June, celebrated gymnast Simone Biles stepped down at the Tokyo Olympic Games due to physical and mental health concerns and a need to protect her wellbeing. Biles was quoted as saying “People have to realize that we’re humans, we’re not just entertainment.”

Announcements like these were previously unheard of in the world of professional sports. While it’s the norm for athletes to take time off for physical injuries or to have a baby, there has been very little conversation around how mental health challenges can affect athletes and the need to take a break to preserve mental and emotional wellbeing. The back-to-back announcements from both athletes has sparked a much-needed conversation about mental health in the world of athletics and in the lives of everyday people. 

The Negative Impact of Stigma

Mental health stigma has been around for about as long as human beings have existed. For centuries of human history, people with mental illnesses have been misunderstood, discriminated against and stigmatized. Stigma is one of the reasons that it’s so hard to seek help for mental health issues. Though both athletes received an outpouring of support, they also received quite a bit of scrutiny.  There is an expectation placed on athletes to be strong and to push through difficulties no matter what. 

In the same way that Osaka and Biles have faced scrutiny, you may have faced similar responses from colleagues, friends or family members when you’ve opened up about mental health issues. Maybe you’re afraid to open up because of the reaction you’re expecting. By speaking up and seeking help when you need it, you’re showing incredible bravery.

Ease Burnout By Taking a Break

You don’t have to be an Olympian to have experienced significant stress or pressure. The demands of work, school, family, finances and other obligations can take a serious toll on your mental health. By pushing yourself too far, you risk becoming burned out, which can leave you feeling exhausted, empty and distant. 

Burnout is a normal reaction to prolonged stress and in a workplace context, it’s often accompanied by feelings of exhaustion, cynicism and reduced job performance. When experiencing burnout, you can start feeling alienated or removed from workplace activities and everything can start to feel pretty pointless. You may feel physically tired or may experience other physical symptoms such as headaches, stomachaches or digestive issues. 

Taking regular breaks is one of the best ways to prevent burnout and to care for your mental health. Use this time to relax, reflect, pause and return to work with increased energy and a more positive perspective. Breaks also help to improve our performance on the job, since working with a balanced and clear mind will lead to better results. 

Easy Ways to Incorporate Rest 

A break doesn’t have to come in the form of a weeklong vacation. Mini-breaks are very effective at helping you to manage your stress levels. Try taking breaks throughout your workday. After every hour of work, take a ten-minute break to stretch your legs, drink some water or go to the bathroom. When it’s your lunch hour, try to put your work away so you can truly enjoy your lunch and maybe take some time to chat with coworkers or read a chapter of a book. These short breaks are surprisingly impactful when it comes to reducing your day-to-day stress. 

Are you able to use your weekends more effectively to get in more rest? For many of us, weekends are a time to get things done that we weren’t able to do during the week. By shifting some of these tasks to weekdays, you can free up valuable time on Saturdays and Sundays that can be used for rest or leisure. Maybe you usually do grocery shopping on Saturday mornings. Is it possible to go one day after work so you can free up two hours on Saturdays? How about shifting tasks like laundry or vacuuming to weekdays?

Seeking Help for Workplace Burnout

Work is a significant aspect of our lives. We spend a lot of our time at work and for many of us, our career forms a large part of our identity and contributes to an overall feeling of satisfaction with life. If you’ve been feeling stressed or burnt out at work and think you may be reaching a breaking point, it’s time to reach out for help. 

Firstly, what kind of help can you get from friends and loved ones in terms of emotional and moral support. Having a community is vital when going through stressful times. It may be tempting to isolate yourself, but try to reach out or to be responsive when others reach out. 

Next, consider how viable it is to speak to HR about your work situation. Could it be possible to shift some responsibilities to a coworker who may have less on their plate? Is your manager or supervisor aware of your stress? If you’re constantly working overtime on a particular project, could it be that enough resources haven’t been allocated to the project? Have a conversation about your concerns to determine if any changes can be made. 

Working with a therapist is one of the most effective ways to manage workplace stress and burnout. The clinicians at Flourish Psychology understand the impact of a fulfilling career on your overall wellbeing. We want to help you to do your best work so you can live your best life.  Whether you’re handling workplace anxiety, considering transitioning into a new career or struggling to find work-life balance, we can provide expert guidance and support to lead you towards a career that brings more joy. 

By working with a therapist, you’re better able to ensure that you’re happy and fulfilled at work and in the other areas of your life. Contact us today to get started. 

How to Understand, Treat and Heal from PTSD

How to Understand, Treat and Heal from PTSD

Though not as prevalent as depression or anxiety, PTSD is a serious mental health condition that affects millions of people across the world. In the past, the condition was known as “shell shock” or “combat fatigue” due to the distress experienced by soldiers after World Wars I and II. In 2021, we know that PTSD is not unique to military veterans, but can affect people from all walks of life. This disorder affects 3.5% of Americans, though women and people of color are disproportionately affected, due to racial and gender-based trauma.

What is post-traumatic stress disorder?

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition brought on following exposure to a traumatic event. People living with PTSD are often plagued by distressing thoughts, dreams or flashbacks related to the traumatic incident. It is possible to experience a traumatic event without developing PTSD. It is also possible to reduce or eliminate the symptoms of PTSD with proper treatment and support.

While living with PTSD, it is common to have very intense and disturbing thoughts and feelings, even long after the traumatic event has passed. It is possible to continue reliving trauma for years, even if you do not get any obvious reminders of the incident. Nightmares, flashbacks and intrusive thoughts are all common experiences for persons with PTSD

what are the causes of ptsd?

Post-traumatic stress disorder is caused by exposure to a traumatic event. This can be repeated exposure or a single incident. Types of events that can lead to PTSD include physical or sexual assault or abuse, serious accidents, war, abject poverty and being a survivor of domestic violence. Surviving a natural disaster or widespread disastrous event is another common cause of PTSD. The COVID-19 pandemic is considered a traumatic event.  

Seeing or hearing other people being hurt or killed can also lead PTSD, even if you are not personally physically harmed by the incident. Women, LGBTQ people and people of color who experience discrimination based on their gender, sexuality or race can also experience PTSD.

signs and symptoms of ptsd

PTSD is diagnosed by evaluating your response to a traumatic event. Your clinician will ask you a series of questions to determine whether you fit certain criteria in order to diagnose you with PTSD and determine the best treatment plan for you.

The first criterion is the exposure to a traumatic event, which can come in the form of directly experiencing or witnessing an event or learning that the event has happened to a loved one. For those who witness distressing events in the context of work (such as police officers and first responders), repeated exposure can also lead to PTSD.

PTSD causes recurring, involuntary and intrusive memories of the traumatic event. Sometimes these memories seem to appear out of nowhere and other times, they are triggered by a visual, sound or even smell. People living with PTSD also experience distressing nightmares or flashbacks related to the event, which may feel incredibly real.

PTSD is also characterized by avoidance of certain places, people or situations that may trigger memories of the event. This can come in the form of intentionally taking a different route to avoid being near the vicinity of the incident, refusing to partake in certain activities or conversations and even being unable to listen to certain songs.

effective ways to treat ptsd

Fortunately, there are many research-backed, effective methods of managing and treating PTSD. By working with a therapist, the most ideal treatment plan will be determined for you, which may be one or more of these methods.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a type of therapy that seeks to change the way you think, feel and behave. It is incredibly effective at treating depression and anxiety, as well as post-traumatic stress disorder. Trauma-focused CBT enables you to come to peace with the event by helping to change the way you think about it and the way you think about yourself in the context of the event. Many people who experience traumatic events begin believing that they were at fault for what happened, that they deserved it or constantly fear that it may happen again. Cognitive behavioral therapy helps you to rationally address your intrusive thoughts and replace them with more helpful messages.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is a psychotherapeutic modality that has been scientifically proven to significantly reduce symptoms of PTSD. Your therapist will ask you to recall the traumatic incident in detail while making certain movements with your eyes or being exposed to external stimuli such as hand tapping and other sounds. EMDR helps to “rewire” your brain to help you move past your intrusive thoughts about the incident.

Progressive Counting

Progressive counting (PC) is a fairly new, but well-researched treatment for PTSD and other trauma-related conditions. It has been shown to teach people how to regain control during racing thoughts, enabling you to make healthier decisions in the moment. During a PC session, your therapist will ask you recall the traumatic incident as if it were a movie while the therapist counts out loud. You repeat the story, but for a longer count this time. As you gradually recall more and more of the incident, you are able to emotionally process and heal.

As a person living with trauma, it’s understandable if you feel stuck or if it’s difficult for you to move on from your past. The therapists at Flourish Psychology can offer support and guidance on your journey to healing. By combining empathy and expertise, your clinician will determine the best treatment plan, so you can find peace and begin to thrive again. Contact us today to begin working with a therapist.

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