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Mental Health Center

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PTSD and Negative Coping - Topic Overview

With post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), you may try to deal with problems in ways that cause more harm than good. This is called negative coping. Negative coping means you use quick fixes that may make a situation worse in the long run.

Here are some examples of negative coping skills:

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Substance abuse

Taking a lot of drugs or alcohol to feel better is called substance abuse. You may try to use drugs or alcohol to escape your problems, help you sleep, or make your symptoms go away.

Substance abuse can cause serious problems. Drinking or using drugs can put your relationships, your job, and your health in jeopardy. You may become more likely to be mean or violent. When you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you may make bad decisions.

Avoiding others

Certain situations may cause you stress, make you angry, or remind you of bad memories. Because of this, you may try to avoid other people at times. You may even avoid your friends and family.

Avoiding others can make you feel isolated. Isolation is when you tend to be alone a lot, rather than spending time around other people.

When you distance yourself from others, your problems may seem to build up. You may have more negative thoughts or feel like you're facing life all alone.

Anger and violent behavior

You may feel a lot of anger at times. Your anger may cause you to lose your temper and do reckless things. You may distance yourself from people who want to help.

This is understandable. It's natural to feel angry after going through something traumatic. But anger and violent behavior can cause problems in your life and make it harder for you to recover.

Dangerous behavior

You also may cope by doing things that are dangerous. For example, you may drive too fast or be quick to start a fight when someone upsets you. You may end up hurting yourself or someone else.

How you deal with stress also can be dangerous. If you start smoking, or smoke more, you put your health in danger. Eating to relieve stress also can be dangerous if you gain too much weight.

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