Every year nearly 8 million people are diagnosed with some form of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). It is believed that more than 50% of all men and women will experience PTSD at least once at some point in their lives, with women being more often affected than men.
They can range from Veterans & First Responders to victims of domestic abuse and children.
What is PTSD?
PTSD is a condition which occurs in response to experience of severe or traumatic life events. A person’s sense of reality gets disturbed, and their perception of the world changes in response to these traumatic events. Feelings of fear, depression, anxiety, hopelessness, helplessness, and shock are all commonly reported.
Life events, such as combat, violence, sexual abuse, accidents, natural disasters, and death of a loved one can all trigger PTSD, yet not everyone who experiences a traumatic event goes on to experience PTSD.
Some people who experience a traumatic event have a short period of distress and then moves on with their life. Some even experience a new or deepening of what they feel is their life purpose through the trauma.
For others, instead of feeling better over time, anxiety, anger, depression, and/or disconnection (numbness) can develop and deepen for those experiencing PTSD.
What to do if you have PTSD
If you find yourself having trouble focusing, feeling depressed or anxious, or crying frequently long after experiencing a traumatic event, you may want to see your doctor. Anyone having thoughts of harming themselves or others should immediately seek professional help.
If you believe you’re experiencing PTSD, it’s important to ask for help from friends, family, and professionals who can offer guidance, and non-judgmental support. Being able to confide in someone or sharing your experience with others who have had similar experiences can be helpful. Letting friends and family know about potential triggers can be helpful as well.
As for family and friends of someone who may be experiencing PTSD, know that it is not a sign of weakness, nor are they being overly dramatic. They need help and support, and a visit to their primary care practitioner for examination.
Relationships can suffer tremendously due to the unpredictability involved in your loved one’s responses to stimuli. Where there used to be openness and communication there may now be withdrawal. Where there was trust and a steady temperament, there can now be volatility and fear. Stress may be running very high, and feelings of walking on eggshells a daily routine.
Symptoms of PTSD
Other symptoms in adults experiencing PTSD can include headaches, dizziness, sleep disturbances, frequent colds or flu, changes in behavior, frequent use of alcohol or drugs, difficulties at work, or exhibiting fits of rage, any or all of which can be debilitating.
Children may wet their beds at night, act out a traumatic event during playtime, become clingy, withdraw from friends, experience regular nightmares, exhibit belligerent or aggressive behavior.
Those who have had traumatic experiences in the past, as well as those without a sufficient support system around them are reported as being more prone to having PTSD.
Recovering from PTSD
There is help and hope for recovery. Psychotherapy, counseling, medication, meditation, breathing exercises, yoga and CranioSacral Therapy have all been found to be helpful in recovery from PTSD.