Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that can be brought on by a traumatic event. PTSD can happen after a life-threatening situation, such as breast cancer diagnosis or cancer recurrence. PTSD can affect your ability to cope with life's daily chores and inconveniences and make it difficult to function.
Symptoms of PTSD can include:
nightmares or flashbacks about the cancer experience
continuously focusing on the cancer experience
avoiding people, places, and events that remind you of the experience
intense feelings of fear
being overly excitable
feeling helpless or hopeless
shame or guilty feelings
bouts of crying
feeling emotionally numb
sadness or depression
trouble maintaining personal relationships
self-destructive behavior (alcohol or drug abuse, for example)
being startled or frightened easily
getting no joy from activities you used to enjoy
PTSD symptoms usually appear within 3 months of a traumatic event, last longer than a month, and severely affect daily life. In some cases, symptoms don't appear for years after the traumatic event.
To prevent PTSD symptoms from getting worse, it's important to tell your doctor about your feelings right away. If you’re thinking about harming yourself or someone else, call 911 right away or ask family or friends to help you.
PTSD treatment can include medications, such as antidepressants, and therapy to help you learn ways to cope with situations that may trigger traumatic stress
The following suggestions can help if you’re coping with PTSD brought on by breast cancer:
Stick to your PTSD treatment plan. Time and patience can really help your coping abilities.
Get enough sleep. Being well rested can reduce stress levels.
Exercise regularly. Exercise can reduce stress and increase the release of endorphins, a chemical made by body that promotes good feelings.
Eat a healthy diet to give your body all the nutrients it needs.
Avoid caffeine and nicotine — they can increase stress levels.
Don’t use alcohol or drugs to cope. Self-medicating can be dangerous and prolong the healing process.
Learn new habits. Practice a new hobby or go for a stroll around the block when you start to feel anxious.
Surround yourself with supportive people and try to discuss your feelings with them.
Consider joining a support group to find others in your situation.
— Last updated on February 22, 2022, 6:51 PM