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About 8 million adults in the United States have PTSD, or posttraumatic stress disorder, during any given year. The National Center for PTSD says about 10 of every 100 women and 4 of every 100 men will develop PTSD in their lives. That number jumps when it comes to veterans: up to 30% who served in the Gulf War, Iraqi Freedom, or the Vietnam War may suffer from PTSD.
While nearly everyone experiences or witnesses some trauma in their lives, most people do not develop PTSD. For those who do, PTSD symptoms can negatively impact their jobs, relationships, sleep and every area of their lives. Common traumatic events that cause PTSD include sexual assault or abuse, living through a natural disaster, going to war, childhood abuse, car accidents and domestic violence.
For the Christian living with PTSD, it is vital to find the best ways to manage and heal from this trauma-related mental health issue. Christ said in John 10:10 (ESV),
“I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
How do you live an abundant life when your past keeps coming back to haunt you? Getting an accurate diagnosis, then fighting PTSD with a combination of faith, assistance from mental health professionals, and medications or natural treatments like CBD oil can help those suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder get their lives back.
PTSD symptoms include re-experiencing, avoidance, edginess (also called hyperarousal or hypervigilance) and negative changes in a person’s beliefs and feelings. These can occur immediately after experiencing or witnessing traumatic events or months or even years later. If they begin to affect daily life and the ability to function, they could be PTSD.
Re-experiencing or reliving the event is sometimes called flashbacks. Memories of the traumatic events come back unexpectedly or intrude at any time. This can include nightmares. Also, sounds, smells, or certain sights may trigger the re-living of the traumatic event.
Avoidance means just that – staying away from places and people that remind the person with PTSD of the traumatic experience. People with PTSD may not feel safe in a crowd. They may have trouble driving if the PTSD was caused by a car accident. They may avoid media (books, newspapers, movies) that make them remember the event.
Edginess includes always feeling jittery or constantly expecting danger. It could mean flinching easily and sudden anger or irritability. These feelings of hyperarousal and hypervigilance can lead to insomnia and trouble concentrating.
Finally, those who have PTSD experience negative changes in their beliefs and emotions. They may let go of their faith in God and people, lose the ability to trust others, and have a hard time feeling love. People with PTSD may avoid deep relationships and find it difficult to open up about past events, even to trusted friends and family members.
Some who suffer from PTSD turn to alcohol and drugs to escape the pain and isolation. PTSD symptoms have also led some to commit suicide. It is important to learn how to heal from this life-threatening mental health condition.
Two underlying components to PTSD are anxiety and fear. The Bible makes it clear that God does not want His people to live in a state of emotional and mental turmoil. In fact, the King James Version talks about fear more than 500 times! Many Bible verses begin with “Fear not.” Yet trauma tries to keep the brains and hearts of those with PTSD in a permanent negative state of worry and fear.
The first thing a Christ follower should do after experiencing trauma is pray for the mind and heart to be protected from ongoing, lingering fear and anxiety. Repeating this prayer, as the Psalmist David did again and again, “bathes” the mind and spirit in the Word of God. David states:
“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise— in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”
Paul writes to the Philippians about anxiety, saying:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every [emphasis added] situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
What does the Christian do about PTSD? Asks God to replace the fear and anxiety associated with PTSD with mental, emotional and spiritual wholeness. Thank Him for healing.
Dr. Melanie Greenberg says on PsychologyToday.com that those who experience anxiety need to do the following:
“allow it to be there and mindfully observe it, rather than reacting automatically … once you accept the anxiety is there, you begin to change your relationship with it.”
That sounds a lot like the scriptural advice found in 2 Corinthians 10:5 (NCV), which says:
“We capture every thought and make it give up and obey Christ.”
Believers experiencing PTSD symptoms may not be able to help having feelings of hypervigilance or anxiousness, but they can practice mindfully taking those thoughts captive. The negative thoughts come in, and faith recognizes those thoughts as untrue and unhealthy and “observes” them through the lens of prayer and petition to God.
For believers, treating PTSD may look like writing Bible verses, prayers and petitions down on notecards and placing them on bathroom mirrors, car steering wheels, near the coffeemaker, and other places to remind them to pray about their situation even if their “feelings” of faith are not present.
Utilizing many tools creates a full support system to help minds, spirits and hearts heal from PTSD. While prayer is crucial, God also provides wisdom and skills to physicians and mental health professionals to help diagnose and treat symptoms of PTSD. Visiting a mental health professional for a correct diagnosis and solid medical advice, as well as finding a Christian counselor, can be positive steps on the path to wholeness.
Good nutrition, lots of hydration, essential oils, and CBD oil may also be helpful tools for healing. Cannabinoids show promise in reducing fear and PTSD symptoms in both rodent and human trials. More trials are ongoing, but many people using CBD oil say they find relief from PTSD symptoms. More clinical trials are needed, but many believe hemp-based cannabinoids can interact with the body’s natural endocannabinoid system to provide relief from fear associated with PTSD.
If you or someone you love suffers from PTSD, prayerfully consider what steps you can take to live the abundant life God promises.
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