Skip to Content
Home > Wellness > Health Library > PTSD and Negative Coping
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:
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.
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
Avoiding others can make you feel isolated. Isolation is
when you tend to be alone a lot, rather than spending time around other
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.
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.
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
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.
Work is a good thing. You learn
new things, interact with others, and gain confidence. But working too much can
be a form of avoidance. You may be working to avoid memories or to help
yourself forget about the event. This is dangerous because:
Changing how you cope with PTSD is
part of your recovery. Here are some things you can do.
For information on alcohol abuse, see the topic
Alcohol Abuse and Dependence.
information on quitting smoking, see the topic
For information on
eating healthy, see the topic
For more information on
PTSD, see the topic
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerAdam Husney, MD - Family MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerJessica Hamblen, PhD - Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Current as ofNovember 20, 2015
Current as of:
November 20, 2015
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Jessica Hamblen, PhD - Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2016 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
I Want To...
Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.
You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups, and pregnancy.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.