PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) is not an illness exclusive to battle-scarred Veterans: about one in twenty Americans have it, and they come from all career fields, genders, ethnicities, and ages. Nor do all trauma survivors develop PTSD: probably the highest risk factor is a feeling of personal powerlessness, especially in an extended situation.
PTSD patients need to reclaim their sense of power—not only for emergencies but for everyday life—as part of recovery. This means working with a therapist to manage the brain fog and intense emotions characteristic of post-traumatic stress. It also means learning to speak up for oneself, to maintain effective self-care, to plan for the future, and to organize to-do lists and daily routines.
Don’t try to do all this in your head, which usually leads to further overwhelm and frustration. Write things down where you can see them in physical form—or use an app to put everything in order.
Assistive Apps for Getting Organized
High-rated apps from our database include:
Walter Prescher, BridgingApps Digital Navigator, adds these personal recommendations:
“I use Structured and Google Calendar, in conjunction with each other, to keep a visual schedule of what I need to do every day. Structured also has an inbox for unstructured thoughts and tasks, where I can put things as a reminder that they need to get done.
“The Notes app on iPhone is great, especially to share with others and coordinate what needs to be done or who needs to be held accountable for getting it done.”
Planning and Organizing Your PTSD Therapy
If regaining a sense of control in everyday life is important, so is taking a systematic approach to therapy-assisted recovery planning. Not all apps are individual self-help tools, notes Erica Toskovich, Marriage and Family Therapist at Easter Seals Greater Houston: “Some are used for support in therapy, especially therapy involving specific modalities.”
A handful of app suggestions for use in conjunction with, or as supplements to, therapy:
- CPT Coach (use in conjunction with Cognitive Processing Therapy)
- Mindfulness Coach
- MoodTools–Depression Aid
- PE Coach 2 (use in conjunction with Prolonged Exposure therapy)
- PTSD Coach
- PTSD Family Coach
- TF-CBT Triangle of Life (for younger PTSD patients: use in conjunction with Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavior Therapy)
(See also: Mobile Apps page from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, National Center for PTSD.)
Quick Tips for Finding Your Best App or Apps
Don’t overload yourself (or your smartphone) by choosing every possibility that looks remotely interesting, but don’t obsess over getting it “perfect” either. Pick one or two apps that match your specific needs, then try them for a few weeks. If they don’t work out, you can always delete them and find something else.
Do consider what organizing/planning styles come naturally to you. Are you a words person, or do you prefer a graphics-based approach? Are you energized or frustrated by complex learning curves? Do you want to keep your notes private, or are you attracted to social-media-type support networks with multiple accountability peers?
(Speaking of support networks, even the most naturally introverted patient needs some accountability partners, preferably including your immediate family and a trustworthy friend or two. All the better if those who know you best can suggest apps to match your needs.)
Let your loved ones, your professional PTSD treatment, your life-management routines, and your assistive apps carry you through to better days. Stick with these helps even after your days get better: what’s good for recovery is good for life in general!