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PTSD should I stop myself scanning for threats?


toby83 - Barnet

Barnet - Tue, 1 Nov 2016

Need some advice please. Just a normal evening walking back to my car when my own thoughts triggered me. I felt unsafe I was scanning the environment for threats until I was in my car. I live London, so it's not totally senseless to be vigilant, but scanning the shadows under cars in a carpark, thinking about how any jogger passing me could stab people as he passed them for fun!
My question is, when I find myself scanning the shadows, searching for threats, etc., should I stop myself? I tried to notice things that indicated the world was a safe place but I've no guidance on how to respond to that symptom?

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Replies (1)


bunnyboy - Barnet

Barnet - Wed, 2 Nov 2016

yes you should try to.

Hypervigilencs is one of the symptoms that reflect the constant physically aroused state that we end up in when we've had trauma. Ordinarily, a person might wake up and their suds are about 2 (Subjective Units of Distress i.e. How distressed do I feel right now, on a scale of 1-10.) .

The average person tends to have a natural awareness of when they're starting to feel distressed. They feel the knot in their stomach and they know: I'm upset/stressed/etc and they respond to bring that feeling down. With trauma patients, we often stop noticing what your body is telling you, and because you spend all day, every day, feeling pretty distressed, you stop realising that. You stop noticing the messages that your body is sending you that you need to find calm. You stay in a constant state of hyperarousal. Hyperarousal starts to feel normal.

By monitoring your suds, you teach your brain to start noticing again. You start to develop skills and lifestyle behaviours that bring your baseline back down to what everyone else works with. It's a way of overcoming hyperarousal, constant Anxiety, hypervigilence, and learning to detect and respond to signals from your emtions and body that you're too stressed out.

It also helps stop the peak hyperarousal situations from happening. Really bad anxiety or panic attacks etc. By bringing your baseline down, you can take on more stress without going straight to 10.

By regularly monitoring your suds, you start to notice again when a situation has sent your suds sky high, so you can respond to it earlier.

hope that helps!

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