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PTSD

answered 01:57 AM EST, Sat May 18, 2013
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anonymous anonymous
I have avoidance, flashbacks and disassociation along with a lot of stress and psychosomatic problems (headaches, pains in my flank etc.) that my doctors say there are no physical reasons for, so they are most probably stress caused (I have a prescription for xanax that I thankfully never filled). I was the victim of an armed robbery 6 months ago and I believe this is the reason why I have all of these symptoms. Now I am pregnant, unexpectedly (which is why I am glad I didn’t use the Xanax). I do not have money for any type of counseling at the moment (I work as a cashier in a gas station). I am very worried that the stress and PTSD symptoms I am having will have a negative affect on my developing baby. Is this the case? Can you recommend ways that I can minimize the impact, on my own?

Takiya Paicely Says...

Takiya Paicely T. Paicely
MSW, LCSW

Hi Anonymous,

I am sorry to hear that you are experiencing difficulties.  It can be hard dealing with traumatic events that take place in our lives and try to pick up the pieces and move on.  It is important that you learn how to positively and effectively manage these symptoms.  Pregnancy creates a significant increase in estrogen, which can affect our moods. 

I would encourage you to look into a local community mental health center to meet with a therapist.  Many of these centers have sliding fee scales and are able to work with you.  Counseling has been shown to be very beneficial for individuals struggling with PTSD.  It is important to identify your current support system.  Those people you feel comfortable talking to and are willing to listen.  Look into attending support groups that may be in your area.  It can be helpful talking with others who are facing similar situations.  Make sure you keep your prenatal and medical appointments.

Additionally, engaging in regular exercise is not only beneficial to your overall health, but helps in manage anxiety and depression.  It will also help your pregnancy as well.  Always consult with your physician before engaging in any physical activity.  Monitor your diet.  The foods we consume have a significant impact on emotional health.  Try to limit your caffeine intake and eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and unprocessed foods.  Make sure you are getting plenty of water daily as well.  Consult with your physician on the types of foods and nutrients you need to consume daily.

Keeping a journal can also be helpful in managing anxiety and depressive symptoms.  Use it to write down your thoughts, feelings, and emotions.  Additionally, use the journal to keep a log of when you experience any symptoms.  Write down what happened before, during, and after.  This will help you identify triggers, how you feel when they happen, and how you deal with them.  Keep positive thoughts, images, music, people, etc. around you.  Limit watching the news, violent movies or television shows.  Meditation and deep breathing exercise can be helpful in managing your symptoms as well.  It is important that you practice these daily, even when you are not experiencing anxiety. 

Learn to recognize when your body is stressed before it becomes more intense.  For example, you may start to lose your appetite or overeat, you may feel tightness in your shoulders, you may get tension headaches, etc.  Our bodies sends us messages when it feels that we are under duress.  Write positive affirmations and post them around your house, keep them in your car.  

Set small and realistic goals.  We can become overwhelmed when we are trying to squeeze too much into our day.  Break them up into smaller steps and if it becomes too overwhelming or too much to handle at the time, take some time away from it.  It is important to take it one day at a time.  There will be some days that are better than others and that it is okay.  It takes time to heal from trauma. 

Helpful websites:

  •  www.ptsd.va.gov
  • www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd.

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