National Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Day
Posted on June 27 2012
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that afflicts those who experienced a traumatic event in their life. PTSD can even afflict those who were not directly affected by the event, but who are close with or know someone who experienced it.
PTSD has been around since our species became a species. There are many literary renderings of real-life people and heroes/heroines who have all displayed symptoms of PTSD. The diagnosis, however, was not formulated until the 1980's when doctors began to work with war-zone Veterans from Vietnam. In its infancy, the diagnosis was formulated based solely upon cataclysmic events including war, combat, and natural disasters, to name just a few.
Three decades later, much has been learned about PTSD. This condition can affect anyone, regardless of the severity of the trauma or how involved a person was with the actual event. Being affected by PTSD can happen to victims and witnesses, as well as those who are related to or are friendly with a victim or witness. Even those who just hear about a traumatic event that happened to someone else can experience PTSD symptoms. Not to mention, over time the leading causes for this condition have been expanded to include physical or sexual assault or abuse, and serious accidents.
There are several risk factors that will affect each person differently. These factors also determine how and if their PTSD manifests, and what symptoms they will project from it. Some of these risk factors include:
- If the person was directly exposed to the trauma - Serious injury involved - Severity and length of time of traumatic event - Person feels family or loved ones are also in danger - Severe physical reactions including shock - The overbearing feeling of helplessness
As all cases stem from traumatic events, everyone has the capacity to develop the disorder, but there are factors that can determine if a person will develop PTSD. These development factors include:
- Intensity of the trauma - Length of the trauma - Losing a loved one or someone close - Injury sustained by an individual - Emotional or personal closeness to the event - Strength of the individual’s reaction - Feeling of control - or lack thereof - during the event - Help and support received afterward
Those living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder may display characteristics, such as frequent fear or nervousness, frequent upsetting thoughts or nightmares, and constant memories of the event. These characteristics can affect the individual’s normal daily life and even their ability to function properly in society. Without treatment, these physical displays can worsen over time and fall into symptom categories including:
- Re-experiencing or re-living the event - Avoidance - Numbing - Arousal (the feeling of being keyed-up or anxious)
These symptoms can come and go over long periods of time, and for those who are able to handle the stress of PTSD, they may have very few and short-lived symptoms. It is likely that following a traumatic event most victims or witnesses will experience symptoms. However, if they continue to develop and the severity increases, it is likely that the individual is suffering from some level of PTSD. Symptoms can be sneaky too - they can come and go over long periods of time and can be triggered by reminders of the event including anniversaries, related news stories, and illnesses. Even retirement can affect these individuals because it commonly leaves them with more time on their hands to dwell on the event.
There is so many wonderful resources available online and in print to help PTSD sufferers and their loved ones learn more about the condition and how to help. It is important that if you, or someone you know, is suffering from PTSD, that you receive treatment and learn to manage the symptoms. An important thing to remember is that it is possible to lead a regular life and get back to the things you once enjoyed doing.
For further information and valuable resources to assist in learning more about PTSD, please visit the Wounded Warrior Project's PTSD Resource page on Facebook. Take the time to spread the word and help other's become aware of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and what they can do to help themselves or others.
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Sources: - Wounded Warrior Project PTSD Resources https://www.facebook.com/wwpinc.fans/app_203351739677351 - Department of Veterans Affairs: History of PTSD http://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/pages/ptsd-overview.asp - What is PTSD from National Center for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and the Department of Veterans Affairs https://www.facebook.com/wwpinc.fans/app_203351739677351