Dealing With PTSD in College

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, is a very real mental health condition brought on by a frightening event such as an assault, an accident, a natural disaster, a medical problem, an animal attack, bullying or warfare. People manifest PTSD in different ways. Some replay the traumatic event over and over in their minds. Some become emotionally numb and try to withdraw themselves from anything that might remind them of the event or cause them stress. Some experience hyper-arousal and become angry and irritated. Other symptoms include insomnia, flashbacks, inability to concentrate, extremes of emotions and hypersensitivity to the surrounding environment. In some people, PTSD manifests itself right after the event, while in others it takes years to surface. It can be difficult to cope with a college regimen and environment if you are suffering from PTSD, but here are some suggestions to help you.

Accommodate Your Needs
It is important to accept the fact that you have been injured and are recovering and do what you can to make it easy on yourself. Recognize your limitations, and do not overload yourself by taking too many classes at once. If crowds make you anxious, try to avoid signing up for large classes. If some are required, perhaps you can arrange with the teacher to take them online. Find a quiet, peaceful study environment, and develop a study routine. If some days are especially difficult and you find yourself unable to concentrate, ask for more time to complete homework or study for an exam.

Sign Up With Disability Services
Though you may not want to cope with feelings of shame that may accompany officially acknowledging your disorder, signing up with disability services is a good move. Your instructors will usually be sympathetic, and it lets them know of your condition in case you have to ask for special consideration. In addition, registering for disability services may make you eligible for free or low cost psychotherapy or counseling. Seeing a therapist or psychologist who specializes in trauma allows you to get help from someone who understands PTSD and its implications.

Take Care of Yourself
Try to exercise regularly, and get enough rest. Take time to do activities that you enjoy. A healthy diet helps to alleviate stress. Eat plenty of protein and fresh fruit and vegetables, and limit sugar, fats, caffeine drinks and sodas. Do not cope with stress by overuse of tobacco, drugs or alcohol. Though substance abuse may temporarily distract you or get your mind off the trauma, in the end it leads to addiction and gets in the way of long-term recovery.

Stay Connected With Others
The temptation to withdraw into yourself may be strong, but it is important to maintain communication with others. Keep in touch with family and friends. Consider joining a PTSD support group, where you will meet people who have had similar experiences. If you feel up to it, volunteering for community service is a way to get your mind off your trauma and onto the needs of others.

It is important for you to keep in mind that PTSD does not affect your innate intelligence or ability to achieve your goals. Despite what you have gone through, your PTSD is a temporary interference, and by making allowance for it and obtaining the help you need, you can get your degree and realize your dreams.

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