Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is an anxiety disorder that’s triggered by a traumatic event where either you personally experience an event or witness an event that causes intense fear or vulnerability. Most people associate PTSD with war veterans but in actuality anyone can suffer from the disorder at any period in their life and at any age.
People with PTSD often experience feelings of panic or extreme fear, similar to the fear they felt during the traumatic event. Like with most Mental Illnesses, symptoms will get worst at times of high stress like exams. A person with PTSD experiences four main types of difficulties:
- Reliving the traumatic event – The person relives the event through unwanted and recurring memories, often in the form of vivid images and nightmares. There may be intense emotional or physical reactions, such as sweating, heart palpitations or panic when reminded of the event.
- Being overly alert or wound up – The person experiences sleeping difficulties, irritability and lack of concentration, becoming easily startled and constantly on the lookout for signs of danger.
- Avoiding reminders of the event – The person deliberately avoids activities, places, people, thoughts or feelings associated with the event because they bring back painful memories.
- Feeling emotionally numb – The person loses interest in day-to-day activities, feels cut off and detached from friends and family, or feels emotionally flat and numb.
Luckily, there are several things you can do to make sure that PTSD doesn’t affect your academics.
See a counselor, therapist or psychologist. This is a big step for anyone but if you have the ability to speak to a professional, do it. There are also so many online resources that you could also utilise and if you’re scared or worried about the experience, you can even remain anonymous on several of them. Here’s a collection of links by avocado-studies on Tumblr but you can also find more by doing a quick google search.
Identify symptoms that relate to you. Figure out what triggers your PTSD. What symptoms do you experience? When do you experience them? Is there a pattern to them? If you compile a list and understand what effects you and causes your symptoms, you may be able to do things in order to prevent them from happening. For example, if you have panic attacks because of a certain topic you’re studying, talking to your lecturer or teacher might mean that you’ll be able to get out of classes or lectures for those topics and avoid the panic attacks.
Obviously, not everything is as simple as that but knowing the basic triggers is the only way to understand your disorder.
Solution system. You can try and come up solutions rated 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. Take an example of a problem and try and come up with possible solutions to that problem – which ones would be best for you?
For example, your current biology class is becoming impossible to go to, would moving into another class be beneficial? Remember to find out what you’re moving into if you do choose to transfer classes as you don’t want to move into something worse than you’re in already!
Break down your work. I’ve mentioned several times before but for any anxiety disorder, working in manageable segments is best. Looking at the big picture is often overwhelming and stress-inducing but if you break down your tasks and taking small steps can be a lot more effective and manageable.
For example, instead of reading through an entire book in a month, work through two or three chapters a week. It makes the task less daunting and stressful.
Take a break. Everyone needs a break. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and need to take a break, do it. If you need to step away from your work for a morning, then do it. There is nothing worst for any mental illness than pushing through when you need a break. You’ll only make things worst that way.
Speak to your teachers/professors/lecturers, etc. Again, something I’ve spoken about a lot in other #happyhealthystudy posts but getting help from your school is vital if you feel like you need it. In no way will you be ostracized or demeaned and you’ll be given appropriate help for your situation.
You don’t have to struggle with PTSD while studying. You definitely don’t have to struggle alone. If you have PTSD and know of some tips that haven’t been mentioned, please share them in the comments below!