How to Deal with PTSD and Grief at the Same Time

How to Deal with PTSD and Grief at the Same Time

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and grief seem to be a lot alike. They both hit you hard, like a train crashing off the tracks, wrecking everything you knew, and leaving you to clean up the mess of your life. Sometimes, you feel grief and PTSD at the same time, especially after something a horrible event happened, like a car accident. You also might go through trauma and grief at different times but still have to deal with emotions related to both at once, which can be tough.

What is PTSD?

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health issue that can happen to you if you’ve been through a scary or harmful event. When you have PTSD, you might keep feeling like you’re going through that terrible event again, even though it’s over. You might have nightmares or flashbacks, and you might feel very sad, scared, or angry.

Sometimes, you might want to avoid anything that reminds them of a past event, and you might get upset when you are triggered by something small like a loud noise or heavy traffic. PTSD can make you feel disconnected from others and affect your life in many ways. Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can be caused by a variety of traumatic events or experiences. Here are some common causes:

  • Physical or sexual assault
  • Natural disasters
  • Accidents
  • Childhood trauma
  • Witnessing traumatic events
  • War or terrorism
  • Medical trauma
  • Sudden loss
  • Occupational trauma
  • Life partner violence
  • Refugee or displacement trauma

What is Grief?

Grief is an emotion when you feel you lost something or someone who is important to you. Grief can also show up when something messes up your normal life or who you are. An example could be a loss of close relationships. You might grieve for:

  • A friend, family member, partner, or pet.
  • A marriage, friendship, or another close relationship.
  • Your home, neighborhood, or community.
  • Your job or career.
  • Money problems.
  • Not being able to reach a dream or goal.
  • Loss of health and physical abilities.
  • Getting older.
  • Not being able to have children.
  • Serious illness

When PTSD and Grief Come Together

When PTSD and grief show up together, it’s extremely difficult. PTSD itself is a hard thing to deal with, and so is grief. Dealing with both at once can be really overwhelming. They bring up strong feelings that make healing seem impossible. Dealing with PTSD and grief at the same time can be hard, they can bring to the surface many feelings and emotions. You can feel lost and confused.

Grief is not only for people who lost someone. You might go through grief even when your family is there with you. There are many losses that we can experience in our lives.

How to Deal with PTSD and Grief at the Same Time?

Dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and grief simultaneously can be an overwhelming and confusing experience for you. Understanding and differentiating between the emotions associated with each condition is important for your effective management of PTSD and grief.

Identify PTSD symptoms

Recognize the signs of PTSD, which often include intense fear, anxiety, and flashbacks triggered by traumatic experiences. Acknowledging these symptoms is the first step towards addressing them effectively.

Recognize Grief

Differentiate between grief and PTSD. Grief involves profound sadness and mourning over a loss, whereas PTSD may manifest as a persistent state of low mood and hopelessness.

Name and Express Emotions

Learning to articulate and express your emotions is important for managing PTSD and grief. Through different techniques, naming and sharing your feelings can help in processing and healing.

Keep a Journal for Clarity

Keep a journal to track your thoughts and emotions. Writing can help clarify your feelings and provide a safe outlet for expressing them.

Seeking Support

Lean on your support network for guidance and validation. Talking to friends, family, or a therapist about your experiences can offer invaluable emotional support.

Coping with Depression

Addressing depression, which often comes with PTSD and grief, is essential for overall well-being. Active self-care practices and professional help can help with the symptoms and improve mood.

Self-Care Practices

Engage in activities that bring you joy and relaxation, such as exercise, hobbies, or spending time in nature. Taking care of your physical and mental health is important for managing depression.

Professional Help

Seek therapy from professionals specializing in trauma and depression. Therapeutic techniques such as EMDR, EFIT (Emotionally Focused Individual Therapy), and mindfulness-based therapies can provide effective strategies for coping with depression symptoms.

Allow Yourself to Grieve

When experiencing grief, it’s important to allow yourself to fully feel and embrace the emotions that arise. Unlike depression, grief is not something to be “worked out” but rather a natural response to loss.

Permission to Mourn

Give yourself permission to mourn your loss. Allow yourself to cry, reminisce, and honor the memories of what or who you’ve lost.

Patience and Self-Compassion

Be patient with yourself during the grieving process. Healing from grief takes time, and it’s important to practice self-compassion and kindness towards yourself as you experience it.

Trauma Can Affect People in Different Ways

The nature of an event or loss isn’t always the only cause of trauma. Your grieving process and emotions may look and feel different than others. Two people can experience the same event and experience different levels of trauma.

Personal factors that affect how someone deals with trauma include:

  • Feeling and Dealing with Emotions: How well someone can control and handle their feelings and thoughts about what happened.
  • Extra Problems: Other issues that come up because of the trauma, like financial troubles or relationship problems, can make things even harder.
  • How They Handle Tough Times: Everyone deals with tough situations differently, what is your source of support: talking to friends, avoiding thinking about it, turning to drinking or drugs?
  • Past Trauma: If someone has been through hard times before, it can make things harder to deal with recent events.
  • Help and Support: Having people around who care and can help, as well as access to services that provide support, can make a big difference in how someone recovers from trauma.

Regular tragedies can cause “compassion fatigue” and “psychic numbing,” where the mind separates emotions from thoughts causing grief. You may feel nothing at first, but days or even weeks later, a range of emotions could suddenly rush over you. Don’t feel guilty if you process loss differently or take longer than others to deal with traumatic events.

Your grieving process and the emotions you’re experiencing are unique to you. While processing traumatic events and dealing with grief is difficult and exhausting, the experience can make you stronger and build your resiliency. You will get through this challenging time but it would be easier with proper support.

When and how to seek professional help

Knowing when and how to get professional help is really important:

  • Feeling Deeply Sad: If you’re feeling really sad and can’t do your usual activities, it’s time to get help. This could be because of losing someone or something important.
  • Feeling Los for a Long Time: If you’ve been feeling bad for a long time and nothing seems to make it better, you should talk to someone who can help.
  • Using Drugs or Alcohol as a coping strategy: If you’re using drugs or alcohol to try and feel better, it’s a sign you need help. This can make things worse, so it’s important to get support.
  • Urgent Help: If you or someone you know is having a mental health crisis, call emergency right away to talk to someone who can help.
  • Talking to a Professional: Make an appointment to talk to someone who knows about mental health. They can help you figure out what to do next to feel better.

Overcoming grief and PTSD? We are here to help you…

At our modern therapy clinic in Vancouver, Canada, we understand the weight of grief and the struggle of living with PTSD. But here’s the truth: healing is possible, and we’re here to guide you every step of the way. Our experienced therapists specialize in helping people going through the depths of grief and PTSD, offering personalized and compassionate support according to your unique journey.

With evidence-based techniques and a warm, welcoming environment, we provide a safe space for you to process your emotions, develop coping strategies, and ultimately reclaim your life. Whether you’re seeking solace after loss or seeking to overcome the challenges of PTSD, know that there’s hope and help available. You don’t have to carry this burden alone.

Reach out to us today at our Vancouver clinic and take the first step towards healing. Your brighter tomorrow starts now. We’re here for you.

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