Lifestyle Changes That Can Help or Hinder Treatment

Social Isolation
By reducing contact with the outside world, a trauma survivor may avoid many situations that cause him or her to feel afraid, irritable, or angry. However, isolation will also cause major problems. It will result in the loss of social support, friendships, and intimacy. It may breed further depression and fear. Less participation in positive activities leads to fewer opportunities for positive emotions and achievements.
Use of Alcohol or Drugs
Using alcohol or drugs may help wash away memories, increase social confidence, or induce sleep, but it causes more problems than it cures. Using alcohol or drugs can:
  • Create a dependence on these substances
  • Harm one's judgment
  • Harm one's mental abilities
  • Cause problems in relationships with family and friends
  • Sometimes place a person at risk for suicide, violence, or accidents.
Like isolation, anger can get rid of many upsetting situations by keeping people away. However, it also keeps away positive connections and help, and it can gradually drive away the important people in a person's life. It may lead to job problems, marital or relationship problems, and the loss of friendships.
Continuous Avoidance
If you avoid thinking about the trauma, or if you avoid seeking help, you may keep distress at bay, but this behavior also prevents you from making progress in how you cope with trauma and its consequences.

How to Cope With Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Through Lifestyle Changes

As part of their treatment, those who have post-traumatic stress disorder need to take active steps to deal with their symptoms. Often, these steps involve making a series of thoughtful changes in one's lifestyle to reduce symptoms and improve quality of life. Positive lifestyle changes include:
  • Joining a support group
  • Increasing contact with other trauma survivors
  • Reinvesting in personal relationships
  • Changing neighborhoods
  • Refraining from alcohol and drug use
  • Starting an exercise program
  • Volunteering in the community.
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