A look at Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Reports are on the rise of more cases of an anxiety disorder known as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). More and more Veterans are experiencing it when arriving back home. This post is to help make others aware of the symptoms and treatments. It is by no means a substitute for seeing your physician. If you think you could be experiencing it, talk to your Doctor.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is not new. It’s been around for quite a while. It used to be referred to as Shell shock or combat fatigue among other things. Often times PTSD is associated with war veterans. If you’re a war veteran that may be suffering from it, you will find some valuable information from the Vietnam Veterans of America. Another excellent source of information for war veterans afflicted with PTSD is available from the Iraq War Veterans Organization. There are more resources listed at the end of this post.

That does not mean that PTSD affects only war veterans. Anyone (adults and children) can experience it at any time. Just a few examples of what can cause PTSD include wartime combat, being raped or sexually or physically assaulted, natural or manmade disasters (such as hurricanes or planes flying into buildings), severe accidents (auto, train, boat etc.) … being involved in a life threatening situation or witnessing traumatic situations, and sometimes even learning about a traumatizing event to another family manner can cause anxiety disorders or PTSD.

Any event that causes you to fear for your life or physical harm, to feel helpless (such as watching a friend or loved one die), or something that causes you horror may lead to PTSD.

That does not mean that if something traumatic happens to you you’ll automatically develop PTSD.

Persistently reliving a traumatic event, or avoiding someone or something associated with the event, reacting with an emotional numb response, disassociating themselves or becoming more withdrawn from friends or loved ones, or constantly being agitated, angry or constantly being on guard are signs of PTSD.

If you or a loved one experiences these symptoms for a month or longer you should see a physician or mental health professional. PTSD is can be diagnosed when the symptoms have existed for over a month. For more information visit the National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder from the U.S Department of Veterans Affairs.

Every person deals with stress their own way. There is nothing to be ashamed of if you are experiencing PTSD. It does not make you a lesser person. Ignoring or avoiding symptoms does not make it go away.

Not seeking help can lead to other psychological disorders, alcohol or drug abuse, physical problems and much more, and can destroy families. Research shows that it can cause neurobiological changes to your brain too.

PTSD symptoms do not always appear right after the traumatic event occurs. Sometimes it can take months or longer for symptoms to appear. Do not fool yourself (or allow anyone else to) into thinking that you’ll “get over it” or that “it will pass”.

Do not allow guilt or embarrassment or anything along those lines interfere with seeking medical attention. Avoiding things that relate to the trauma can interfere with seeking assistance. Don’t let it. In order to get treatment for PTSD, you have to be diagnosed with it. When you seek medical attention make sure you’re straight-forward and candid about everything.

Some forms of treatment may include Psychotherapy and/or Medication. Psychotherapy can be in done on a one on one basis or in groups and can also include Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). Medications can include anti-depressants or sleep medication. Medication does not treat PTSD it just helps relieve some of the symptoms. Other possible treatments include Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy to help relieve some of the symptoms.

This is just a brief description to help make others more aware of post-traumatic stress disorder. Again, if you or someone you know could be experiencing PTSD, make sure to seek the proper professional help.

Here are some more references for those wanting more information:

  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Symptoms, Types and Treatment from Helpguide.org
  • National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Some PTSD links (some were broken when I checked but most were fine) from the Iraq War Veterans Organization, Inc.
  • PTSD from the National Institute of Mental Health
  • Post traumatic stress disorder from the Anxiety Disorders Association of America
  • PTSD page from Military news
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