Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms may develop in elderly who have had serious falls. Lead author Nimali Jayasinghe explained, “Anyone who goes through an accident in which they feel their life may be in danger or they could get physically harmed can develop post-traumatic stress symptoms.”
The patients were assessed using the Post-Traumatic Stress Scale, which measures 17 symptoms of PTSD. Background information was also collected including marital status, previous mental health issues, details about their fall, and current health conditions. Majority of patients fell in their homes and received help within an hour.
Women, unemployed individuals, and those with less education were more likely to experience PTSD after a fall. Furthermore, PTSD was associated with other health conditions. The most common PTSD symptom reported was feeling emotionally unstable when being reminded of their fall, a change in future hopes, and problems falling or staying asleep.
Injuries to the back or chest were most associated with stress symptoms, but these did lessen over time.
Jayasinghe added, “I also hope that the report will encourage studies that explore whether symptoms in the hospital setting affect outcomes there, and to what extent there are long-term effects for patients. It remains to be seen if this association will hold when more study is conducted.”
Treatment and therapy options for post-traumatic stress disorder
Living and coping with PTSD can be challenging, but it is possible with these helpful tips.
- Follow your treatment plan.
- Educate yourself about PTSD so you can better understand your symptoms and experiences.
- Don’t self-medicate with prescription and over-the-counter drugs, or alcohol and illegal drugs.
- Break the cycle – when you feel negative emotions, remove yourself from the situation to clear your head.
- Talk to someone – whether you seek out a therapist, doctor, or even support group members, talking can often be helpful.
The primary treatment is psychotherapy, often combined with medication. But prescription drugs are toxins in the system, setting you up for dependency and harmful side effects. You want to improve your symptoms, feel better about yourself, and learn ways to cope if symptoms arise again, of course, but there is a natural approach to consider.
Several types of psychotherapy, also called talk therapy, can be used, including the following, according to the Mayo Clinic:
Cognitive therapy: This type of talk therapy helps you recognize the ways of thinking (cognitive patterns) that are keeping you stuck — for example, negative or inaccurate ways of perceiving normal situations. For PTSD, cognitive therapy often is used along with exposure therapy.
Exposure therapy: This behavioral therapy helps you safely face what you find frightening, so that you can learn to cope with it effectively. One approach to exposure therapy uses “virtual reality” programs that allow you to re-enter the setting in which you experienced trauma.
Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR): EMDR combines exposure therapy with a series of guided eye movements that help you process traumatic memories and change how you react to them.
A healthy diet of fresh, whole foods can help calm the nervous system and boost your immunity.
There are also a number of calming, restorative herbs to supplement your diet. One to try is Holy basil. This common herb supports the adrenal glands, protecting them from the stress of surviving a violent, traumatic event.
People with chronic illness also are turning to homeopathy, a form of holistic medicine used based on the principle of “like cures like” – a plant substance taken in small amounts will cure the same symptoms it causes if it was taken in large amounts. Speak with a qualified practitioner about the following options that may help with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder: stramonium, mancinella, gelsemium, staphysagria, and chamomilla.
The Mayo Clinic also recommends the following coping strategies:
Don’t self-medicate: Turning to alcohol or drugs to numb your feelings won’t help and can lead to more problems down the road, preventing real healing.
Break the cycle: Be mindful of your symptoms. When you feel anxious, distract yourself and re-focus by taking a brisk walk or working on a hobby.
Talk to someone: Stay connected with supportive and caring people. You don’t have to talk about what happened – just spending time with loved ones can offer healing and comfort.
Consider a support group: Ask your health professional for help finding a support group, or contact your community’s social services system. The stronger your support network is, the better.
Post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms can take a serious toll on your health, leading to faster aging and even early death. Don’t let the disorder linger untreated. Take back control with these natural approaches to feeling like yourself again.