PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) is an understandable response to a terrible traumatic situation. The trauma can be from war, abuse, assault and other experiences that cause intrusive distressing thoughts, feelings, images and anxiety that impair quality of life and daily functioning.
Managing symptoms can be challenging and overwhelming. When I work with clients with PTSD, we focus on multiple issues including trauma resolution, relapse prevention, identifying triggers, noticing and addressing symptoms before they get worse.
I encourage clients to monitor their moods, identify levels of distress, recognize upsetting body sensations, track sleeping and eating patterns, attend to the quality of their self talk and interactions with other people. I teach grounding techniques, deep breathing, meditation and relaxation exercises. I encourage journaling, trying new self care strategies and gratitude lists. We work on identifying, building and reaching out to their healthy support system.
As you can see, recovering from trauma involves much dedicated effort.
I am always looking for new tools and resources to help clients do healing work and improve their lives.
The United States Department of Veterans Affairs National Center for PTSD has been researching methods to help veterans who are suffering from PTSD manage symptoms so they can better reintegrate into their lives and families.
The VA's National Center for PTSD and the DoD National Center for Telehealth and Technology have used modern technology to develop mobile apps that vets can use in addition to the mental health services they receive to resolve PTSD, stress, anxiety and depression.
These free apps – PTSD Coach, Breathe2Relax and Mood Tracker – are IPhone, IPod, IPad and Android smart phone mobile apps that can be downloaded from the Apps section of the ITunes Store and the Android Market .
The apps are handy, private and portable methods for identifying, dealing with and resolving distressing symptoms.
In my office, clients frequently will forget their written "homework" but will not forget their phones.
The convenience of having these tools in your phone is tremendous. The recovery tools are readily available when you need them. No one has to know what you are working on unless you want them to know.
The apps have self assessment tools you can schedule with options for note taking and results tracking. You can set up your support network contact information so it is easy to access when you need to reach out. You can even listen to guided deep breathing and relaxation exercises right on your phone.
While the apps may not totally replace the "old fashioned" tools we have been using, they certainly are a valuable compliment to them.
The apps are free and beneficial to all people who experience PTSD, stress, depression and anxiety. You do not have to be in the military or a veteran to download and use these tools.
Below are highlights of the apps. Click the pictures or names of the apps to go to their home pages where there are links to download them.
Scroll down the page for videos that describe a personal story about how the apps can be useful.
"The PTSD Coach app can help you learn about and manage symptoms that commonly occur after trauma. Features include:
- Reliable information on PTSD and treatments that work.
- Tools for screening and tracking your symptoms.
- Convenient, easy-to-use skills to help you handle stress symptoms.
- Direct links to support and help.
- Always with you when you need it."
"The Breath2Relax App:
- The app teaches and encourages diaphragmatic breathing exercises. These deep breathing exercises can help people refocus and relax when anxiety spikes easing tension by stimulating the “relaxation response.”
- Breathing exercises have been documented to decrease the body’s “fight-or-flight” stress response and help stabilize moods, control anger and manage anxiety.
- Video-based instruction in Breathe2Relax explains the body’s reaction to stress and shows proper breathing exercises. Users can customize the application with their own music and images to further enhance the experience. "
"The T2 Mood Tracker:
- T2 Mood Tracker is a mobile application that allows users to self-monitor, track and reference their emotional experience over a period of days, weeks and months using a visual analogue rating scale.
- Users can self-monitor emotional experiences associated with common deployment-related behavioral health issues like post-traumatic stress, brain injury, life stress, depression and anxiety. Additional rating can also be added. With each self-rating, notes on environmental influences on emotional experiences can be added. Self-monitoring results can be a self-help tool or they can be shared with a therapist or health care professional, providing a record of the patient’s emotional experience over a selected time frame."
Here are three videos The Battle at Home, Apps That Heal and Apps Designed To Help Psychological Health For Wounded Warriors . The videos tell the story of one family experiencing the consequences of PTSD after return from active duty. They describe benefits of the new technology as part of a program to help manage and heal from trauma.
If you can't see the videos, click on their titles above to view them on YouTube.
If you want to learn more about these issues, please visit my website to see information I have written about PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder); Adult Survivors of Abuse, Assault, Trauma; Depression and Anxiety; and EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing).
Shari Cohn, LCSW, CSAT is a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist providing
Sex Therapy, Sex Addiction Therapy and Psychotherapy
to the Madison, Wisconsin area for over twenty years.
Shari specializes in counseling sex and porn addicts, partners of sex addicts,
abuse and trauma survivors, ptsd and sexual problems.
"Reclaiming Sexuality…Reclaiming Your Life…One Step At A Time"
Call Shari at 608-237-8000 x 109 for a Free Initial Phone Consult