What Is PTSD Hyperarousal?

Published 06/23/2022

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a serious condition that causes people to experience episodes where they will recall traumatic events. It can cause people to have serious anxiety issues as well as significant depression problems. You likely know that PTSD can disrupt the lives of the people diagnosed with it, but there are many aspects of PTSD that most aren’t as familiar with. For instance, you might not have ever heard about hyperarousal states resulting in some people who have PTSD. What is hyperarousal, and how can people with PTSD cope with it?

Understanding Hyperarousal

Many people experience anxiety symptoms when they have PTSD. In fact, it’s very common for those who have PTSD to feel like they are anxious much of the time. Heightened anxiety levels can make it tough to go about your life like normal, and it can even cause some individuals to enter a hyperarousal state. This is essentially a physical state where people are much more sensitive to stimuli than normally. For example, someone might feel like they can hear things that they wouldn’t be able to hear under normal circumstances.

When you’re in a state of hyperarousal, all types of stimuli can be more pronounced than usual. This could make it so that you’re more aware of your heartbeat than usual. You might not be able to hear your own heartbeat under normal circumstances, but while you’re in a state of hyperarousal, it might be easier to do so. Hearing things like this can actually bother you and make you feel more anxious than you typically would. You could also get more annoyed by little sounds than normal such as the ticking of a clock or someone else breathing in and out. Chewing noises could bother you while you’re in a state of hyperarousal, too.

Your hearing isn’t the only thing impacted by this hyperarousal state, though. Your overall feelings can be heightened, which could mean that you’ll be more sensitive to pain. It’s a very odd feeling, and it’s unsettling enough to make you constantly feel on edge. You might have a very tough time trying to calm down, but there are things that you can do to make coping simpler. Keep reading to learn about how people cope with hyperarousal as well as how PTSD should be treated.

Talking To Your Doctor

Talking to your doctor should be your first course of action when you’re feeling more anxious than usual. If you’re having a hard time determining how anxious you are, then you could take a simple anxiety test online. This gives you a good way to get information about how you’re feeling based on your honest answers to various questions about anxiety. Once you’ve determined this, making an appointment with your doctor to talk about your experiences will be crucial. A doctor can diagnose you properly, and you’ll be able to start moving forward with treatment options.

There are various types of medications that people will take when dealing with PTSD. You might need to take anti-anxiety medications if your doctor thinks that it’s a good idea. Some people who have been diagnosed with PTSD will also need to take anti-psychotic medications or mood stabilizers. It really depends on your specific symptoms, the situation you’re in, and what your doctor thinks is the best option for your health. You need to work with your doctor to get PTSD under control, and your doctor will be very good about making adjustments when necessary.

It’s also very common for PTSD patients to go to therapy to get treatment. Therapy is great for PTSD patients because it helps them to learn how to cope with everything. Many types of therapy have proven to be helpful, but most people go through standard cognitive-behavioral therapy. This type of talk therapy can help you change how you think about things over time so that you can feel less agitated and anxious than you have been. Therapy is excellent for helping people manage PTSD symptoms, and you might be able to live with PTSD a lot easier if you attend therapy sessions regularly.

Coping With Hyperarousal

There are some things that you can do to make coping with PTSD and hyperarousal a bit easier. The following methods are things that you can start doing outside of receiving normal treatments for PTSD. Your therapist and doctor will likely recommend some of these to you as well. These options are very practical ways to make hyperarousal and PTSD symptoms less of an issue in your life. They might not eliminate hyperarousal completely, but they can mitigate the problems that you have with them.

Try To Improve Your Sleep Schedule

You’ll often find that people who have PTSD have issues with their sleep schedules. Having a bad sleep schedule could be contributing to you having issues with hyperarousal. When you aren’t getting enough sleep at night, it will be that much easier to become agitated. This is why turning things around can have such a positive impact on your life. Try to get to bed simultaneously every night if you can, and ask your doctor for help with sleep aids if you feel that you need it.

Eliminate Alcohol And Caffeine

Both alcohol and caffeine can be bad for you when you’re having issues with PTSD hyperarousal. Alcohol is something that can make you feel depressed, and it’s also likely going to negatively interact with the medications that you’re taking for PTSD. If you want to be safe, then you really shouldn’t be drinking alcohol at all. Even drinking in moderation is not a good idea when you’re on medications such as anti-anxiety pills or antidepressants. If you can alter your habits and stop drinking alcohol, then you’ll be in a much better position.

Caffeine is something that you will want to stop drinking because it will negatively impact your sleep patterns. Drinking too much caffeine is just going to keep you up at night, and it isn’t really worth it. Also, caffeine has the potential to exacerbate anxiety issues because it can make you sort of jittery. If you’re already dealing with anxiety problems due to PTSD, you don’t want to make things worse by drinking caffeinated beverages. If you like coffee, then it might be worthwhile to change to decaffeinated coffee. If you make the switch, then you should notice some improvement pretty fast.

Start Exercising Regularly

Getting regular exercise can also be beneficial when you’re trying to cope with PTSD hyperarousal. Exercise is something that will release positive endorphins in your bloodstream, and this is going to significantly boost your mood. Being in a better mood is going to help you to stave off issues with PTSD hyperarousal. It’s also true that exercising is just good for PTSD because it makes you feel like you’re in control of the situation. It’s an overall good thing that will help you to feel more confident over time.

Focus On Your Diet

Eating a bunch of junk food isn’t going to be good for your body under normal circumstances. When you have PTSD, you’re more likely to feel stressed, and many people like to eat when they’re feeling this way. This leads to many people gaining weight due to eating junk food such as sugary snacks or salty chips. Removing this junk food from your house will make it so that you will snack on things like fruit and vegetables instead. It’ll keep you in better shape, and your improved physical condition will make it a bit easier to cope with the mental health issues associated with PTSD.

Spend Time Relaxing

Spending time relaxing is another great way to cope with PTSD hyperarousal. When you feel like you’re very stressed, it’s going to be important to take some time to unwind. It might be beneficial to do something that you love doing to blow off some steam. Some people like to play musical instruments while others like to play sports. What you didn’t isn’t too important, and you really just need to focus on relaxing while trying to have a good time.

It’s also helpful to develop relaxation techniques that will make it easier to wash away stress. Many people with PTSD will learn about meditation techniques that make it simpler to unwind after a long day. You can use all sorts of breathing methods and meditation techniques to improve your state of mind. There are even many therapists that help patients to develop coping mechanisms like this specifically so that they can manage PTSD hyperarousal. Don’t hesitate to look into relaxation techniques if you think they would help you get things under control.

Find A Support System

Finally, finding a support system that will be there for you when you’re having a hard day is quite helpful. Your loved ones can help to lift you up when you’re feeling down. They can help you use your relaxation techniques, and you’ll be able to feel more at ease being around people you love. Some people also attend support groups with other people who are coping with PTSD symptoms. It’s also worth noting that you can potentially call your therapist for help when you’re having issues with PTSD hyperarousal.