What is and who gets PTSD
They say as many as 1 in 3 of us at some stage in our life will suffer from post traumatic stress disorder, the causes range from childhood abuse and neglect to road traffic accidents, from witnessing traumatic events to working in environments that are harrowing and traumatic. For many the symptoms come and go in a relatively short time after an event, for others they may not show until years later and be far more deep seated.
The diagnosis of post traumatic stress disorder was first used by veterans of the Vietnam War, but the problem has existed for a lot longer and has had a variety of names, including:
- shell shock, soldier’s heart, battle fatigue, combat stress, post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSS)
The term PTSD can be used to describe the psychological and mental health problems resulting from any traumatic event.
What are the symptoms.
The symptoms vary from person to person and you may have any of the following.
You may relive the event:
flashbacks, intrusive thoughts and images, nightmares, distress at reminders be they real or symbolic of the event, pain, nausea and other sensations.
You may have feelings of being hyper alert of being on edge.
Panic when reminded of the event, extreme alertness, anger, lack of or disturbed sleep, a lack of concentration, irritability and anger, easily startled, self-destructive tendencies.
You may attempt to avoid reminders.
you keep busy, avoiding certain situations, repression of memories, being detached and cut off, unable to express feelings and emotions, self medicating through alcohol and drugs.
Along with the symptoms above you may also develop other mental health issues ranging from.
Anxiety, phobias, depression, suicidal tendencies, dissociative disorders.
What are the causes.
There are many causes of PTSD I will list some but the list is not exhaustive of the causes that can trigger PTSD.
War, conflict, rape, childhood abuse, witnessing a serious accident, a traumatic child-birth, being attacked or assaulted, witnessing a traumatic event, seeing people hurt or killed, a natural disaster(flood, earthquake), loosing someone close to you in disturbing circumstances.
Anyone can be affected by the symptoms of PTSD though it is more likely if you work in a high risk occupation like the military or the blue light services. Other areas where there is a higher risk are if you have suffered childhood abuse or you are a refugee fearing for life and safety.
You may be more vulnerable if you have suffered other mental health issues in the past, you suffer from repeated traumatic experiences, you have little or no support be it from family of friends, if you are dealing with added stress at the time such as losing a job or suffering a bereavement.
There are a number of ways that you can help yourself.
After the event you may feel numb, disoriented and dazed. A lot find it hard to accept that what happened could happen to them, many lock it away and refuse to accept what happened, by doing this you may subconsciously start the process of dealing with what has happened. When you feel the time is right for you, try the following things for self-help.
Talk to someone close to you about it, express your feelings to them, you may turn to family or friends, colleagues or seek professional help.
Talk to others who have had the same experience, doing this is often a very good way of dealing with the emotions and feelings, there are a number of organisations that deal with like to like, where you talk with a person who has experienced the same traumatic event, be it loss of a child to being at war, there is always someone out there.
Practice mindfulness, this is a method of becoming more aware of the present moment, I have practised this through meditation, yoga and reiki. Some find this a very good way to deal with anxiety and stress.
There are a number of organisations and charities that are available to help you, if you want further information drop me a line and I can point you in the right direction.
Visit your GP.
This post only scratches the surface of this very complex issue, the worrying thing on my part is the growth in numbers of people presenting with the symptoms that the mental health departments are either failing to pick up or are unable to fund.
There are organisations now doing what in my eyes the government should be doing, this is a scar and a wound that is not visible and a lot more needs to be done to fight it.
Always remember you are not alone, like me there are many others out there willing to help in any way we can, you have all the answers it is just a case of the right coaching and mentoring to enable you to put the jigsaw back together and lead the life you deserve.
If you or anyone you know has or you believe to be suffering please do not suffer in silence let us help you.