Anxiety is one of the worst of the PTSD symptoms.
Anxiety plays a part in informing us there is danger.
But, the PTSD brain is in a higher level of 'danger alert', due to having experienced life threatening or severe trauma and being 'stuck' in high alert.
People with PTSD will have higher levels of anxiety.
Symptoms of Anxiety
Heart rate increasing
Shortness of breath
Increasing unpleasant emotions
PTSD and anxiety are very difficult to manage and anxiety can become debilitaing and impact the persons life considerably.
Social anxiety and anxiety relating to large crowds of people, unfamiliar places and people etc, can all impact quality of life.
Anxiety Sucks!!! It really does - but it can be managed.
It takes time, but anxiety can slowly be managed better.
Here is how I managed to get my anxiety under control:
At one point last year (2012), I was concerned I would end up housebound. My anxiety was worsening as the other PTSD symptoms worsened. I could not attend Church, I had an increasing fear of shopping centres and was withdrawing from all socialising.
My counsellor explained how anxiety needs to be managed with breathing and grounding (see pages on this) and the way to reduce anxiety is to tackle it, slowly, carefully and in a planned and controlled manner.
So, I started to tackle the anxiety by exposing myself to small amounts of anxiety, with trusted people, for short periods of time, in quiet places.
I planned nothing else other than school/day care runs that day, to lower all other stressors. I picked days where my other PTSD symptoms were manageable and allowed myself to cancel the activity if needed.
I allowed time beforehand to de-stress and time afterwards to de-stress.
Slowly, but surely, I built up my tolerance to shopping centres, socialising, crowds etc.
I still have days where I know it's best I avoid crowds, and I have become very self aware of my symptoms, my anxiety levels, my mood and I judge everything accordingly.
Medication For Anxiety Can Be An Option
Medications can be necessary to help manage symptoms. I don't believe in saying medication is never needed. Medication can save lives and PTSD when severe, is life threatening.
If your anxiety is impacting your life in a debilitating and severe way, you can discuss medication with a doctor. There are many medications for anxiety.
What happens when anxiety becomes an anxiety attack
I have had anxiety attacks, where the anxiety has built too far and I know when it is becoming an anxiety attack, as I start to have the following symptoms;
Pain in my chest
Unable to speak
Feel like I'm having a heart attack
Panic sets in
State of fear
Feel like I need to run
In order to stop anxiety increasing beyond the point where you can manage it, understanding what is happening and identifying this early, is needed.
I am very self aware of my symptoms, and I need to be, as my anxiety can spiral into a full on anxiety attack.
I have had anxiety so severe, I literally felt like I was having a heart attack, the pain was so intense.
I have worked hard on managing my anxiety and it has made a huge impact of my coping ability, my socialising ability and to manage being in crowded places.