Being diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can be a frightening and unnerving event, and learning to live with that diagnosis, and all that comes with it, can be difficult. However, receiving a PTSD diagnosis can also bring some relief. The fear of not knowing what PTSD is all about (symptoms, treatments, and recovery), and being given a mental illness label, often causes added anxiety and stress. Sometimes though, for someone who has been living the symptoms without being able to call it anything but crazy, learning that it is a real thing, with a real cause, makes the diagnosis easier to swallow. Once it has a name, learning to live with a PTSD diagnosis is easier and sufferers are often able to find hope that things will get better.
It's important for people with PTSD to realize that it is a manageable disorder, and that while some will suffer symptoms for a lifetime, most sufferers do recover, in time, with the proper treatment. It may feel like a life sentence when a diagnosis is first made, but it doesn't have to be. There are some things that the newly diagnosed can do to make it easier to live with their PTSD diagnosis.
The first, and most important thing to do is get educated. Read as much as possible about PTSD and its symptoms and treatments. There is a wealth of information on the internet to help people learn what it is all about, including many blogs that are written by PTSD sufferers. Reading other peoples' stories, challenges, and advice can be very comforting to someone who has just found out that they have PTSD. Perhaps the most beneficial are the stories that talk about recovery from and triumphs over PTSD. What could be better for someone who is just learning to live with a PTSD diagnosis than hearing about someone's victory over it?
Another helpful way to cope with a new diagnosis is to talk about it. Sometimes when people are diagnosed with a mental illness, their first inclination is to keep it secret, which may be what is best for them at the time. However, talking about it with a therapist, trusted friend or family member, or even clergy, can significantly relieve the stress of trying to deal with it alone.
Lastly, when someone receives a diagnosis of PTSD, it's very important that they practice self-care while they are digesting the situation. That means getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, getting a little bit of exercise and scheduling in some down time to relax. Taking care of oneself will be an essential part to recovery from PTSD from day one.
Receiving a PTSD diagnosis is not the end of the world and it does not equal weakness. In fact, it means that the person has survived something that is significantly traumatic, thus making him or her exceptionally strong. They now must use that strength to learn to live with the diagnosis, and start on the road to recovery from PTSD.