ADVENTIST LA GRANGE MEMORIAL HOSPITAL: Understanding Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital issued the following announcement on June 28.
Sometimes you can’t see the scars of the worst wounds a person has ever suffered. When you have survived a major trauma or tragedy, you might carry those experiences with you until they develop into post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). You might also think that since you lived through that horrible experience, you must be “tough enough” to face any difficult situation, but the truth is that struggling with trauma doesn’t reflect a person’s strength or resilience. In that sense, it takes a lot of bravery to seek help when you need it.
PTSD isn’t as simple as you might think. This is a guide to understanding the disorder and recognizing it in yourself and in others.
Who Gets PTSD?
PTSD can affect anybody who has survived a traumatic event. Extreme violence, abusive relationships, sexual assault and traumatic accidents can all cause the disorder. According to the National Center for PTSD, about 7–8% of the U.S. population will experience PTSD at some point in their lives.
Military veterans are among the hardest hit by PTSD, experiencing it at a rate far above the general population. Veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom are diagnosed with PTSD at a rate of about 11–20%, while about 12% of Gulf War veterans have PTSD in any given year. And some studies have indicated that the percentage of Vietnam veterans who have or will experience PTSD is as high as 30%.
Other Kinds of PTSD
Complex PTSD differs from PTSD in that it arises from a series of traumatic events and/or an extended traumatic situation, instead of just one highly traumatic experience. Survivors of domestic abuse, child abuse, sexual abuse or unlawful imprisonment can all experience complex PTSD. Since it isn’t as closely tied to a single event, it can cause other, more amorphous symptoms, including:
Distorted perceptions of the perpetrator or abuser
A distorted relation to reality, such as disassociation
Persistent problems with emotional regulation
Remember, any traumatic event or series of events can potentially cause PTSD. You don’t have to be the “right kind of victim” to seek help. If you see yourself in the description of these symptoms, you may wish to contact a therapist immediately.
What Does PTSD Look Like?
PTSD can be invisible to both the person suffering from the symptoms and to the people around them. Because of the stigma that surrounds mental illness, a person might be reluctant to admit that they are struggling and may go to great lengths to hide their pain. But there are a few symptoms that you can watch for, whether in yourself or in others.
Intrusive Thoughts and Memories
Flashbacks, or reliving the traumatic event as if it is happening again, is probably the best-known symptom of PTSD, but it’s not the only way people experience intrusive thoughts and memories. They might also simply struggle with painful memories returning over and over again. A patient with PTSD might also suffer from upsetting dreams or nightmares, or have a severe emotional reaction to otherwise innocuous stimuli — like a veteran ducking for cover at the sound of fireworks or a tornado survivor running for shelter when the weekly tornado siren test rings.
Avoidance symptoms might be harder to spot, since they’re about what isn’t done or isn’t said. If you find yourself actively avoiding thinking of or talking about a painful event from your past, it might be because you are suffering from PTSD. This can extend to behavioral patterns like avoiding the people, places or activities that remind you of the event.
Mood or Behavioral Changes
A sudden change in behavior can be one of the biggest red flags for PTSD. Everybody copes with trauma differently, so how that change presents might vary a lot from person to person. They might take the form of an overall mood shift, a specific difficulty with specific triggers or a new habit with harmful consequences. Watch for any of these symptoms in yourself or others:
A recurring or persistent feeling of hopelessness, guilt, fear or irritability
Difficulty recalling certain aspects of the traumatic event
A feeling of emotional numbness and trouble concentrating
Self-destructive behavior such as drug abuse or reckless driving
Frequent, outsized angry outbursts
If these symptoms sound familiar to you or one of your loved ones, you can take comfort in the fact that you’re not alone — help is out there. And you might be surprised to learn how advanced that help can be.
Original source can be found here.
Source: Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital