This page discusses PTSD.
It is natural for a person involved in a traumatic event to sometimes experience feelings of fear, sadness, anxiety, and even a bit of disconnect. However, when that feeling continues without fading away, and are constantly dealing with a sense of danger and memories of the pain it caused it may be that you are suffering from a condition known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
The majority of people associate this condition with military personnel who have been scarred by combat. Nevertheless, this mental illness can occur any time an overwhelming life event leaves the individual feeling as if they are unable to control or predict the events of their lives.
Anyone that has experienced, witnessed, or just helped in the aftermath of a catastrophic event can be affected by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This includes the ordinary citizen as well as emergency workers and law enforcement personnel, as well as family and friends of those going through traumatic events.
Some of the events that have the potential for leading to PTSD include the following:
• Natural disaster
• Terrorist attack
• Car and plane accidents
• Death of a loved one
• Physical, emotional or sexual abuse
• Neglect during childhood
• Any event that leaves one feeling hopeless
Symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder vary with the individual. They can come on gradually or all of a sudden. They can even come and go as time goes by. There are times when they seem to appear for no reason at all, or are triggered by something that acts as a reminder of the original event. That could be an odor, word, image or sound, and there are three specific symptoms that most sufferers have in common.
• Increased emotional arousal and anxiety
• Sufferer feels as if they are experiencing the trauma again
• Sufferers often avoid reminders of the event
Military veterans are some of the most frequent victims of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder because they are most often exposed to traumatic events while engaging in combat. In fact, it was these individuals who were first diagnosed with this condition. However, veterans are often trapped within a system that is not necessarily designed to help them deal well with their problems.
Any veteran who is currently suffering from PTSD must understand that even though government services may not offer the kind of assistance needed to get past this place in their lives, there are numerous organizations that provide counseling services along with other much needed help.
Recovering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or any other mental illness can take time to accomplish. It is a gradual and ongoing process, and no one can expect healing to occur overnight. As with any other memories, the memories associated with and are part of the reason for the condition will not disappear suddenly. This can make it very difficult to go on with a normal life. Nevertheless, there are some things that sufferers can do to cope with the symptoms produced.
If you believe that you may be experiencing PTSD, you should first visit with your doctor and explain to them why you are feeling that way. He or she will likely ask a series of questions to determine if this is a possibility. The responses you give will be held in strictest confidence in the same way your other medical records are. Here is an example of what may be asked.
• Have you ever experienced or been a witness to an event that frightened, horrified, or threatened you?
• Are you experiencing recurring distressful memories of that event?
• Do you have recurring dreams or nightmares about that event?
• Do you feel as if you are reliving the event often?
• Do you try to avoid thinking about the event?
These and other questions are all part of the diagnosis process and are important for getting to the bottom of the problem. Children and adults alike can experience PTSD. Even though it is impossible for anyone to predict who will develop this disorder after a traumatic event, there are a number of risk factors that can increase the chances.
• History of anxiety, depression or other types of mental illness
• Other traumatic events, particularly when experienced early in life
• History of sexual or physical abuse
• Past experience with substance abuse
• Inadequate coping skills
• No support after experiencing trauma
• Lifestyle that is filled with stress
It is vital that anyone who suspects they are dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder should seek professional help right away. It is much easier to treat it if it is confronted early on. Those who are reluctant to seek the help they need for this condition should remember that it is not something that affects only the weak. The sooner you get the help you need, the better chance you have of overcoming it. With the help and support of a professional, you will learn to confront and understand the cause.
• Exploring your own thoughts and feelings surrounding what you have gone through
• Working through your feelings of mistrust, blame, and guilt
• Learning how to control memories that intrude and cope with daily life
• Addressing various problems it causes in your relationships and life
Treatment types include:
• Family Therapy, because Post Traumatic Stress Disorder affects you as well as those you have relationships with. The intention is to help you and your family understand what you are going through and learn how to communicate with one another better.
• Cognitive Behavioral Therapy which focuses on trauma.
• Medication is prescribed to help individuals suffering from PTSD relieve depression or anxiety and other symptoms that are associated with the condition.
• Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. This is a therapy that works on the belief that specific eye movements can help to unfreeze the information processing system of the brain. It is thought that this system is interrupted during those times of extreme stress.
Some people believe that spending time outdoors can benefit those suffering from PTSD because being in natural surroundings helps to bring on the feeling of relaxation and peace. Couple that with strenuous activities like hiking and swimming offer a challenge to feelings of helplessness which are part of the condition. It is also thought that it can help to unstuck the nervous system so that you can move beyond the event that brought you to this place in your life.
Whatever you do when you suspect that you are experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, your best option is to reach out for the help you need, because trying to avoid it can only allow the condition to get worse.
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