The Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that more than 20% of veterans returning from combat suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. That’s why it’s so important that we help veterans find ways to cope with the anxiety, flashbacks and nightmares that come with PTSD.
The VA recommends a few options for veterans who want to manage their symptoms: group therapy, individual therapy, animal therapy and self-help books. Each of these provides different benefits and has its own challenges.
I’ve tried many of these methods myself and found that while they are all effective in their own way, they’re also difficult to access or carry out on a regular basis outside of the office.
Best Apps For Ptsd
Comparison of two PTSD apps: PTSD Coach and T2 Mood Tracker
PTSD Coach and T2 Mood Tracker are not intended or designed to replace traditional methods of psychological treatment for PTSD. Users will find both apps to be useful as self-help tools to independently monitor a range of symptoms commonly experienced by individuals exposed to trauma. Data collected by the app can be easily shared with a mental health care professional if used in conjunction with therapy. These two apps differ in their emphasis on symptom tracking or symptom management.
Both PTSD Coach and T2 Mood Tracker include tools for symptom tracking.
PTSD Coach employs a measure that is commonly used by professionals in clinical and research settings, (PTSD Checklist) which can be completed on a weekly basis to track primary PTSD symptoms alongside use of symptom management tools.
T2 Mood Tracker is designed specifically for symptom monitoring. T2 Mood Tracker allows the user to rate a wider range of symptoms with respect to the emotional experiences of people affected by trauma, as well as the physical and cognitive symptoms that may occur. Each rating scale (e.g. Anxiety, Head Injury, Post-Traumatic Stress, etc) is multidimensional. A unique and valuable feature of T2 Mood Tracker is the option to create and personalize new rating scales so that the tool can be used in the most meaningful way for each individual. T2 Mood Tracker includes an option to create notes to coincide with mood ratings, allowing the user to independently gain insight into symptom patterns over time. T2 Mood Tracker can generate a symptom rating file which can be saved and emailed to oneself and/or to a mental health professional.
PTSD Coach is preferable for users seeking self-help tools for symptom management. This app allows the user to independently practice coping strategies commonly used in psychological treatments for depression and anxiety disorders. PTSD Coach includes guided imagery, audio-guided muscle relaxation and deep breathing exercises, coping skills for dealing with triggers, and tools to reduce isolation and manage anxiety/stress. Users can customize symptom management features including the use of music, pictures, and personal contact lists.
T2 Mood Tracker does not include tools for symptom management.
PTSD Coach features numerous frequently asked questions and answers about PTSD, other disorders that can co-occur with PTSD, and information about treatment options.
T2 Mood Tracker does not include psychoeducation although contact information for the Defense Centers of Excellence (DCoE) Outreach Center is provided for users to get additional information about psychological health or traumatic brain injury.
Links to Support
PTSD Coach provides direct access to multiple crisis resources, including a personalizable list of contacts imported from your mobile device, 911, or links to find appropriate professional care.
T2 Mood Tracker provides contact information for the DCoE Outreach Center, which is a resource for information, but does not serve as a treatment or counseling center.
Both apps are free.
PTSD Coach and T2 Mood Tracker are available for Android and IOS platforms, however both apps provide better navigation and feature functionality when using an IOS device. Android users of PTSD Coach commonly experience limited functionality of symptom management tools. Individuals who consider the PTSD Coach app for symptom management might also consider the web-based version of the program which offers a more extensive menu of well designed tools including those not provided by the mobile app, such as assertiveness skills training, goal setting tools, and practice in the use of problem-solving strategies to overcome barriers to goal attainment.
reviewed October 2014
Product details and where to get the products: PTSD Coach T2 Mood Tracker
best apps for trauma
People who struggle with PTSD often need extra support to help handle their symptoms. Trauma can cause serious issues that can interfere with daily life and having any type of assistance available can allow patients to manage their every day struggles. Resources such as mobile apps can be a helpful supplementary treatment option for people who are in recovery from post traumatic stress disorder.
Apps can allow people who are already seeing a regular therapist or who have just completed a treatment program to maintain their progress. It can be a simple way to check in with your recovery goals and stay in touch with something positive every day. These apps are designed to help people deal with their trauma and other mental health issues that might be affecting them.
This app is designed for people learning mindfulness strategies to help stabilize their mood and become more aware of their emotions. Mindfulness is helpful in reducing stress, anxiety, depression and other issues that many people with PTSD tend to face. The app offers users a number of different exercises so that they can practice mindfulness techniques and even track their progress.
Negative emotions are a part of life and this app was created to help people cope with the difficult thoughts and feelings that come up naturally in their lives. ACT stands for Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and it allows people to learn to live with their emotions and accept them instead of running away or letting them control you. It was specifically developed for Veterans struggling with symptoms of PTSD and provides useful exercises, tools and tracking logs to practice the skills patients learn in therapy.
Breathing techniques and strategies can be particularly helpful for people who struggle with anxiety and need to work on relaxation to reduce stress. This app is a very effective stress management tool that provides users with diaphragmatic breathing exercises to decrease the body’s “fight or flight” response to stress. It helps users control their emotions so that they don’t become overwhelming and allows them to stabilize their mood quickly when they are faced with an emotional trigger.
People diagnosed with PTSD often deal with very intense nightmares which can disrupt their sleep and negatively affect their health. Dream EZ is an app that was designed to help people diminish the intensity and frequency of their nightmares by using techniques of Imagery Rehearsal Therapy. It allows people to “rewrite” their nightmares and change them into less disturbing images so that they are able to have more relaxed and peaceful sleep.
Veterans often have the highest rates of PTSD and they are faced with many challenges when they return home from their time in the service. Moving Forward is an app that was mainly designed for Veterans to overcome obstacles and deal with stress that is affecting their transition back to civilian life. It can help with many issues including financial difficulties, balancing family and work, making career decisions and a number of other problems that may be affecting them.
Post traumatic stress disorder is a mental health issue with very specific challenges that people must face. This app provides people with more information about PTSD including a self-assessment tool, lists of places for support and professional care as well as a number of tools to help manage symptoms. The app has tools for relaxation, anger management and other strategies that are useful in treating symptoms of PTSD.
Veterans frequently face a myriad of issues when they return home including PTSD and issues of addiction. VetChange is an app that helps Veterans address their issues with drinking or other addictions and understand how they relate to their mental health problems. It provides tools for moderating or quitting drinking, stress management skills and other crucial strategies that will help Veterans achieve better physical and mental health.
Even though these apps can be helpful it is important to keep in mind that there is no single app that can act solely as a treatment plan for a serious problem like PTSD. People who have issues with trauma need support from professional therapists and psychiatrists who can help them work through their trauma and learn coping mechanisms to deal with their mental health symptoms. Once you are involved in a treatment plan you can utilize apps as a way to stay on track whenever you are on your own and are struggling with certain emotional triggers.
These kinds of apps can serve as a reminder to stay connected to treatment and work on the exercises that improve your mental health. Breathing, mindfulness, relaxation, anger management and other exercises can be incorporated into your daily routine through the use of mobile apps. For PTSD these techniques can help manage stress and minimize symptoms so that patients enjoy better health overall.
Trauma Treatment Programs
Residential Trauma Treatment Programs
Some wounds go deeper than flesh, and the marks they leave don’t manifest themselves as scars, or blemishes – instead, you’re left with nightmares, flashbacks, insomnia, and a cocktail of emotions that, sometimes, time alone can’t make go away.
Let’s all come together and say it: trauma sucks. It seriously does. Not only are you put through a harrowing event, but you get the (dis)pleasure of having to re-experience it.
It’s hard to quantify trauma when many people use the term so casually. On the other hand, the thought of actually getting diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after a legitimate trauma is associated with having gone crazy, or perhaps even “overreacting”.
It’s infuriating. But here at Vantage Point, we know exactly what trauma is and isn’t and provides you the best residential trauma treatment programs.
From Greek, the word trauma simply means “wound”, and more often than not, it’s the physical in an event that triggers this mental state. When a traumatic experience occurs, it’s often a physical nightmare so powerful that our minds cannot overcome the event. Not everyone experiences traumatic stress, even after a harrowing event – but for those that do, it’s a debilitating condition that can change your life for a few weeks or months, to over the course of an entire lifetime.
To have undergone trauma means to be stuck on a moment in your life that, despite your best intentions, won’t quite go away. For some, it’s the shell shock of war that does it – for others, it’s a close personal relative having their way with you, while you’re left unable to confess to anyone for decades about what happened.
Hey, we get it. We really, really do. Getting residential trauma treatment programs for complex trauma is especially hard – because as it is, PTSD is a mental illness, and that means that on top of dealing with the stress of living with the mental equivalent of a malignant tumor, you have to worry about being labeled dangerous, crazy, and mentally ill. No one ever asked to be exposed to a traumatic experience – and the last thing they’d want right afterward is to feel mentally “broken”, or sick.
Vantage Point is considered the best Complex PTSD Treatment Center as we believe mental illness isn’t a curse. It isn’t any different to us as an infection or a tumor might be to a surgeon. To us, you’re not deprived of normality or a walking stereotype of emotional instability. You’re a person, dealing with a hefty mental wound, and we provide you with the means to excise the problem, treat the area, and let it all finally heal.
What Trauma Actually Is
Everyone has a few bad days, and there are times when things aren’t looking so good financially or emotionally, and the world just feels like a dark and grim place. Getting good sleep gets harder, finding the motivation to exercise dwindles, and you even feel your performance at work suffering.
Ups and downs are a part of life – but there are specific symptoms that occur after a traumatic experience that redefine the way people see their “downs”. Post-traumatic stress manifests itself as:
Feeling numb (the thousand yard stare)
Reliving the event, months after it happened
Avoiding people and places because of the trauma
Recurring images and flashbacks
Difficulty concentrating, getting easily startled
Chronic tension and anxiety
The list goes on, but the idea is important: trauma is highlighted by stress that you just cannot cope with. It’s defined by fear, a fear of death, of persecution, of repeated trauma – to the point of irrationality, where it turns into paranoia. Traumatic symptoms occur in three distinct flavors, giving you a better understanding of how the condition works. They are:
Hyper Arousal – if you’re easily frightened, constantly on-edge, non-stop tense, and incapable of sleep, relaxation, or a moment’s peace, you’re at risk of violent outbursts due to trauma.
Re-Experiencing – flashbacks, nightmares, intrusive thoughts, and other horrible manifestations of remembering what happened count as re-experiencing symptoms.
Avoidance – feeling numb, or guilty, depressed, and withdrawing yourself from parts of your old life because of an event are signs of avoidance.
Trauma doesn’t just affect you – it affects your loved ones. Ignoring the aftermath of a traumatic experience means that, as time goes by, things could get worse. You could experience depression, suicidal thoughts, or worse, experience bursts of sudden violence. In other cases, it doesn’t take that long for traumatic experiences to turn into depression and panic.
This isn’t meant to scare you – it’s meant to encompass the severity of the trauma, so you and your loved ones understand the importance of seeking professional help.
Types of Trauma
Acute Stress Disorder – this is trauma that lasts a few weeks at most, immediately after an event. While this does go away as the name implies, it’s not a bad idea to find someone to talk to or seek some residential trauma treatment programs afterward.
Acute Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – when symptoms occur for more than a month but fade on their own after three months, this is your diagnosis.
Chronic Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – while “chronic” implies reoccurrence in some contexts, a CPTSD diagnosis means symptoms are consistently lasting over three months.
Delayed-Onset Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – the most extensive kind, this type of PTSD doesn’t manifest itself until long after the event and lasts over half a year.
Complex PTSD Treatment: Treating Trauma
No case is the same, and the connotations and considerations both families and professionals have to make change drastically depending on the length, duration and severity of a stress disorder. In other words, we’re not going to advertise how amazing treatment A or treatment B are, without actually coming face-to-face with you and your problems.
Instead, we’ll tell you what we use to a.) help us find out more about your specific, unique case and b.) present you with a way to beat the trauma, on your own terms, in your own way. We’re not magicians or brain doctors from the future – no one can enter your mind and rewire things just the way you’d like. But what we can do, is help you lead a completely normal life with the wiring you already have.
We do so not through calls, emails, fax or pigeon mail, but through human interaction. Vantage Point specializes in intensive outpatient and inpatient treatment, either putting you in touch with resources in your area to help you progress in your recovery, or giving you a place to completely dedicate yourself to recovery away from work and family.
Here’s a general overview of the tools we use at Vantage Point Residential Trauma Treatment Programs to fight your stress and help you get to a place in your mind where you can move on from the trauma:
Psychotherapy – this is a long-term Complex Trauma treatment tool that requires trust, transparency, and regularly scheduled sessions. Psychotherapy involves an investigation of the mind of sorts, where a professional will help you rummage through your thoughts and identify – and deal with – your greatest fears and neurosis. They can also teach you to cope with possible triggers.
Group Therapy – Sometimes, the only way to really accept your condition fully is to see how others have dealt with similar problems in their life. Group therapy exists to provide a space for PTSD strugglers to express themselves. If you ever felt the need to say anything at all, this is the place.
Medication – In extreme cases, before the healing process can begin, damage control is more important and pressing. Some trauma develops into severe depression and anxiety – anti-anxiety medication can then be prescribed to beat back at the symptoms.
We make you no promises of a perfect, normal life, or that undergoing Complex Trauma treatment suddenly reverses the event that caused it all to begin with. We’re not going to sugarcoat things for you – the road to eliminating your symptoms will be hard, too. But what we can say, and say with confidence, is that with our Complex PTSD Treatment center things are going to get better for you. They’re going to get just a bit better, every single day.
Complex trauma is different from trauma by a degree of frequency, rather than sheer severity. Instead of the breaking dam that is PTSD, complex trauma could be described as the cascading waterfall that occurs afterward – one serious psychological marring after the other, a rapid-fire deterioration of a person’s ability to live life without constantly being haunted by imagery, memories, and pain.
All mental conditions are serious conditions, but complex trauma is arguably one of the more severe diagnosis out there. However, that doesn’t mean you’re sick, or weak, or somehow faulty – or worse yet, at fault. It means you’re bendable, flexible, and compassionate. It means you’re capable of changing and learning. It means you’re human – a working, functioning human being, with human problems and human boundaries.
Complex PTSD Treatment: Our minds can only take so much before they break, and the breaking point differs from person to person. But when that breaking point is stepped over and violated repeatedly, the mind changes from an incapability to cope with a single event, to a systematic breakdown of stress management. You can’t think, eat, work, sleep, or do much of anything without being reminded of whatever personal hell you had to go through.
Here’s What Makes Complex Trauma Different
Here at Vantage Point, we differentiate between post-traumatic stress and complex post-traumatic stress. To us, C-PTSD is a condition that requires a wholly different approach, and one that changes from case to case.
We’re not going to give you a magic pill or put you through a cookie-cutter 12 step program to build up your ability to cope. We specialize in the latest and most effective available psychiatric treatment options – but even more importantly, we specialize in caring. No matter how hard it gets, the one thing you can be sure of is that with us, it’ll get easier.
How Complex Trauma Works
It doesn’t take much reading to realize that the human mind is a pretty fragile thing. That’s by no accounts a bad observation – we need our minds to be malleable and open to outside experiences, in order to learn, and better ourselves, and use our struggles and discomforts to become better at living.
But life isn’t always a perfectly linear, chronological cascade of increasingly discomforting experiences. Sometimes, everything is amazing, and the world is on your side in everything you do. At other times, it can all come crashing down in the hardest, most painful ways. When the human mind is put through that much unimaginable pain, that quickly, our ability to bend tears and instead we break.
That breaking point is different for everyone. Some individuals are gifted with a powerful mental fortitude – they maintain a psychological wall so resilient, that while they still feel pain and empathy, they can function at times and after events where others might crack. In other individuals, a painful childhood or previous trauma might expose that outer wall, like faults in a volatile reactor. It might start as a small fissure, a tiny fault, but with enough sudden pressure, that can build into a crack, and eventually, a collapse.
In complex trauma, that collapse happens repeatedly – like a jackhammer continuing to work on the remaining rubble. Repeated abuse, a string of harrowing combat experiences, and other series of physical and emotional trauma can trigger a condition of C-PTDS, often paired with one or more other psychological illnesses, like:
Generalized anxiety disorder
Borderline personality disorder
Each of these illnesses is the mark of a broken mind, struggling to cope in its own way – and in some cases, these illnesses are either caused or aggravated by complex trauma. If you or a loved one have undergone a massive shift in personality after a series of traumas, then chances are you’re suffering from more than just PTSD. Other symptoms in the aftermath of complex trauma include:
Poor emotional regulation
Poor behavioral control
Negative body image and low self-esteem
Boundary and attachment issues
Poor coordination and foggy thinking
In other words – you’re no longer like you were. That doesn’t mean you’re not you – it doesn’t mean you’ve been sullied, or completely destroyed as a person. Here at Vantage Point Complex PTSD Treatment Center, we know that with the right plan, you can return to a sense of normality, and slowly regain control over your life.
You’re not a lost cause. You are not a lost cause. It’d be an understatement to say you’re in a bad place in your life, so instead, we’ll call it the worst of places – a dazed, trapping nightmare. We’re here to help you wake up again.
Coping with Complex PTSD Treatment
There are a lot of ways to treat complex trauma – although Complex Trauma treatment might be a strange word to use in this case. We’re not going to lie to you and say that things will be like they were. They never will be.
But life doesn’t have to amount to painful memory after painful memory – with our help and patient care, we at Vantage Point will work hard with you to get to a place where you can cope with what happened, to the point where it’ll no longer get in the way of you doing what you’re meant to be doing: living. How? By figuring out what hinders you the most, and focusing on that above anything else through a list of options such as:
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy
A lot of these therapies sound a little intimidating, or outlandish – but all you really need to know, to begin with is that they’re designed to address individual parts of a larger problem. Some might work better on you than others – during Residential Trauma Treatment Programs our job is finding out exactly what combination works best for you in order to achieve six simple, succinct healing goals:
Self-reflection and contemplation
Increasing social interaction and serious relational engagements
Improving and expanding your ability to be happy
Sometimes, that means employing intensive inpatient care, by giving you an environment far away from any traumatic triggers, so you can rebuild your own wall a brick at a time without stress or pressure, and with help of anti-anxiety medication or other prescribed medical aids.
In other cases, our intensive outpatient Complex PTSD treatment center helps you focus on getting better and seeking help while continuing to seek an active part in your life, from working to staying with your family.
No matter how you choose to move forward, we will respect your choice – and we’ll stand behind you, to make sure every step you take towards betterment, will be a step you won’t lose, or fall back from. That’s the Vantage Point way.
Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.