Hypervigilance in PTSD - Deer Hollow in Utah

Hypervigilance in PTSD: Causes, Symptoms, Coping Strategies

This entry was posted in PTSD.

Hypervigilance is a common symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). While it’s often experienced by first responders and military veterans, others who have gone through traumatic events also display it. This heightened state of awareness and arousal can significantly impact daily life, but fortunately, there are ways to manage it.

Always on Alert: Causes and Symptoms of Hypervigilance

Hypervigilance is an exaggerated startle response that traumatized people exhibit, even in safe environments. Those affected are in a continuous state of high alert, constantly “on guard,” and always on the lookout for actual or presumed hidden dangers. For instance, a veteran with combat experience may startle at the sound of a car backfiring or incessantly scan their environment for potential threats.

Typical symptoms include shakiness, muscle tension, increased irritability, fear, pain, and using alcohol and other drugs to manage them. No matter the underlying cause, it’s a highly stressful state of being that’s exhausting to maintain.

Common Coping Strategies of Hypervigilance in PTSD

Coping strategies are conscious, direct approaches to dealing with a problem, including hypervigilance in PTSD.

Patients taking advantage of in-patient or out-patient trauma therapy typically use one or more of these strategies to cope with their hypervigilance:

  • Mindfulness and other relaxation techniques like yoga focus on the present moment and calmly accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. This practice can help individuals with PTSD reduce their overall arousal levels and gain a sense of control over their hyper-alertness.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a powerful approach that helps reframe intrusive thoughts that often drive hypervigilance. Patients who identify and challenge these negative patterns of thinking can diminish their exaggerated responses to triggers.
  • Routine physical therapy and recreational outings can significantly alleviate symptoms by reducing stress and enhancing overall emotional resilience.
  • A structured daily routine provides a sense of normalcy and predictability, which can be comforting to those feeling perpetually on edge.

These and other coping strategies assist in managing hypervigilance and contribute to a healthier psychological state, helping individuals slowly rebuild their trust in the safety of their surroundings.

Compassionate Treatment Options at Deer Hollow

Hypervigilance is treatable with therapy. Deer Hollow offers customized holistic treatments that address the whole person, from trauma’s root causes to the ways conditions like hypervigilance affect quality of life. If you or someone you care about is suffering from the impacts of hypervigilance in PTSD, contact us today to learn how we can help.