The effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can be far-reaching and debilitating. The symptoms of PTSD can have a negative impact on your mental health, physical health, work, and relationships. You may feel isolated, have trouble maintaining a job, be unable to trust other people, and have difficulty controlling or expressing your emotions.

Why Healthy Coping Skills Are Important

If you have PTSD, you are at much greater risk of developing a number of other mental health disorders, including anxiety disorders, depression, eating disorders, and substance use disorders. For example, researchers have found that people with PTSD are about six times as likely as someone without PTSD to develop depression and about five times as likely to develop another anxiety disorder.

People with PTSD are six times as likely as someone without PTSD to attempt suicide. High rates of deliberate self-harm have also been found among people with PTSD.

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Social Coping Strategies

Trying to explain your experience to others can be challenging. Not only can it be difficult to talk with people about the traumatic event itself, but it can be even more challenging to describe to others some of the symptoms you have been experiencing since the event.

People who struggle with PTSD often do so in isolation, finding it hard to reach out. In fact, they might not even realize that they are struggling with PTSD until the symptoms become nearly unbearable. In addition to educating yourself on the symptoms and treatment, it is important to seek out safe people to connect with who can support you in your recovery journey. By learning about the condition, you can have the words to more clearly explain to others what is happening for you and ask for what you need.

There are many resources offered in local communities and online that offer group-based support, such as support groups, classes, community meetings, and online groups. Connecting with others who are going through a similar experience can break down the walls of isolation and help you understand that you are not alone. Interacting with others who are in various stages of healthy recovery can be invaluable to you in your own healing journey. You can discover tips for coping, connect with specialized providers and learn about new and emerging treatment options.

It is common for people with PTSD to shy away from people, withdraw, and retreat. Fears, anxiety, anger, frustration, confusion, and the feeling of being overwhelmed are just some of the reasons why it might feel better to stay isolated than be around people.

Spending time with supportive friends and family can make a significant difference in your mood and outlook.

Keep in mind that if you are sharing space with any family or friends, it is likely they already notice you struggling. Many times people don’t know how to help or are afraid to say something for fear of causing more emotional pain. It can be helpful for all parties—both you and your loved ones—to have time to spend together. Some ways to spend time with others can include things like:

  • Going for a walk
  • Have morning coffee
  • Play a card game
  • Talk on the phone
  • Share funny stories
If you don’t feel ready to talk yet, you can also sit quietly in the same room to read a book or the newspaper. Simply sharing the same space quietly can feel comforting.