Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is often thought to be something that is only associated with people who have been involved in war or combat. However, there are many people who have PTSD from various traumas that can happen throughout one’s life, such as car wrecks, domestic violence, a near-fatal illness, being abused, or witnessing a horrific event—even a natural disaster.
What is PTSD? It is important to understand that PTSD is a type of anxiety disorder that can occur after any extreme emotional trauma that involved the threat of injury or death.
What are the symptoms of PTSD? Some symptoms may include:
Flashbacks (reliving the trauma)
Nightmares about the traumatic event
Avoiding thinking or talking about the traumatic event
Avoiding activities you once enjoyed
Difficulty maintaining close relationships
Irritability or anger
Overwhelming guilt or shame
Suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts
Being easily startled or frightened
Although these are all emotional symptoms, PTSD can also manifest itself in physical form. For example, people with PTSD show higher instances of fibromyalgia, arthritis, ulcers, and high blood pressure.
Are you at a high risk for PTSD? It is possible for anyone to develop symptoms after experiencing trauma, however people at greater risk are those that:
Already have poor coping skills
Have a tendency towards pessimism or depression
Have had other recent life stressors around the time of the event
Have experienced previous drug abuse
Have a history of previous trauma
What do you do if you think you have PTSD? Participate in a PTSD assessment by a mental health professional. This can be conducted by your primary care physician who can determine if you have any emotional or physical symptoms to address.
What are the treatments for PTSD? There are different types of treatments, such as psychotherapy, that can be conducted on an individual or family basis. Some treatments include relaxation skills, stress management, and processing of traumatic events. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a type of therapy that focuses on helping the mind process past traumatic experiences.
Some medications can assist with PTSD symptoms, however there is no medication specifically made to treat the disorder. The antidepressants sertraline (Zoloft) and paroxetine (Paxil) have FDA approval for treating PTSD. It is important to note that the use of benzodiazepines is discouraged due to the addictive qualities and potential interference with psychotherapy. With these types of drugs, the client is less likely to have the capacity to appropriately process the feelings related to PTSD recovery.
What are additional tools that can be used to help with PTSD? Download the free App: PTSD Coach https://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/materials/apps/ptsdcoach.asp Take the course "Considering Professional Help" https://www.myhealth.va.gov/course/ConsiderProffHelpPresentation/index.html Additional tools:
Remember, if you have been involved in a traumatic event you do not necessarily have PTSD. Some people can be involved in or witness very horrific events with some shock, but recover more easily – whereas others may have PTSD symptoms as a result. Consult with a healthcare professional if you think you may be at risk. Source: http://buckblack.com/blog/do-you-have-ptsd Source: http://www1.appstate.edu/~hillrw/PTSD%20MM/PTSD_riskfactors.html