The holidays can be challenging under normal circumstances, but when adding a mental illness like PTSD to the mix, the time between early November and the beginning of a new year can feel like hell. Depending on the trauma that was experienced, there can be a wide range of triggers that can cause flashbacks, feelings of anxiety and depression, hypersensitivity, and isolation. Triggers can include certain foods, songs, sights, places, activities, or even certain people can be triggers of PTSD symptoms. And when all of these are gathered together for the holidays, it can be an incredibly intense and stressful time.

Wherever you are for the holidays, whoever you are with, or whatever challenges you are facing, know that you are not alone and that PTSD treatment and therapy are always just a call away. Dr. Andy Brown is a licensed psychologist who has years of experience helping patients learn how to manage their symptoms so that they can lead a high-quality life. Dr. Brown always strives to create a warm environment where patients can feel at ease and are able to open up about their experiences. If you need support or guidance during the holiday months, don’t hesitate to contact Andy for an appointment, or visit our client resources page for links to a variety of helpful organizations. Just remember that you are never alone and PTSD help is always there for you.

Be Mindful of Crowds

Whether it’s a holiday party with friends, family, or coworkers, or at a busy shopping mall, crowds have the potential to be full of triggers, and especially so when the environment is unfamiliar. In these situations, there is a higher risk of becoming hypervigilant and sensitive to potential threats or danger, which can cause flashbacks and other PTSD symptoms. To minimize the risk, consider shopping online or during off-peak hours to avoid crowds and unfamiliar places.

Understand Your Triggers

Trauma affects people differently and so everyone struggling with PTSD will have their own triggers. Depending on how long you have been experiencing triggers and symptoms, you may be more or less familiar with what your triggers are and how they affect you. Whether it’s a smell, place, person, etc., you can start to identify and track the triggers so that you can eventually learn how to effectively manage them. Keep in mind that tracking and understanding your triggers doesn’t mean learning how to avoid them. Certain PTSD treatment methods, like Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, or EMDR, is a technique that uses both negative and positive memories to desensitize and reprocess the negative memory. Dr. Andy Brown has level one and level two certifications in EMDR therapy.

Use Coping Strategies

PTSD treatment is often about learning how to face the memories of the traumatic event and handling any related symptoms or physiological responses, rather than using denial, suppression, and dissociation, or even alcohol and drug use as unhealthy coping strategies. Healthy coping strategies can include breathing exercises, journaling, or relaxation techniques that can help you slow your heart rate and relax your body and mind. Finding an effective coping strategy is an essential part of PTSD therapy.

Be Mindful of Isolation

Many people struggling with PTSD avoid situations in an effort to shield themselves from feelings of shame, guilt, powerlessness, or helplessness. Avoiding situations may reduce the risk, but increases feelings of isolation, which can also have a negative effect. Instead of a large party, consider planning a small gathering with people you trust or a simple one-on-one outing so that you can still participate in the festivities.

Seek PTSD Help From a Professional Therapist

One of the most important things you can do during the holidays is to work with a therapist who can guide and support you through the season. Dr. Andy Brown is passionate about helping patients live a happy, well-adjusted life, and he has the experience and knowledge it takes to make that happen. Don’t hesitate to contact Dr. Brown today if you are struggling with symptoms and need help.