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Understanding PTSD

Unfortunate as it can be, survivors and victims of tragic or shocking events almost always end up with a dark cloud hanging over their heads in the form of PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder.

What is PTSD?

Feeling fearful, stressed and overly anxious even in the absence of any threat or danger are basic symptoms that lead to a diagnosis of PTSD.

“After a traumatic experience, the human system of self-preservation seems to go onto permanent alert, as if the danger might return at any moment.” Judith Lewis Herman, Trauma and Recovery

It is your natural instinct to ‘fight or flight’ when threatened. You immediately respond either by defending yourself or by fleeing to avoid impending danger. Now, while most people are fortunate enough to have a relatively smooth recovery, there are those who find it extremely difficult to recover long after such traumatic life events occurred.


Who Are Most Likely to Develop PTSD?

The National Center for PTSD says that 7% to 8% of the population will, at some point in time or another, suffer from PTSD. While it has been found that women are more prone to developing PTSD than men, genetic factors also play a major role. So basically, anybody is subject to developing PTSD at any given age.

Included in the list are:

  • War veterans.
  • Victims of physical abuse, violent crimes, sex crimes, accidents, and disasters.
  • Sufferers of non-fatal but nevertheless life changing experiences, such as the sudden death of a significant other.
  • Close friends or relatives of trauma victims.

PTSD Signs and Symptoms to Look Out For

Generally, signs and symptoms can be noticed early on – approximately three months after the traumatic event. On the other hand, there are cases wherein symptoms appear only after many years. In either case, once symptoms become obvious, it is imperative that you show your concern and support for your loved one by consulting a professional mental health care provider.

“Often it isn’t the initiating trauma that creates seemingly insurmountable pain, but the lack of support after.” S. Kelley Harrell

Your therapist will conclude with a PTSD diagnosis if the symptoms below last longer than one month:

  • Panic or anxiety attacks, such as flashbacks, nightmares, and cold sweats, due to terrifying thoughts and memories.
  • Fearing and avoiding objects or activities remindful of the traumatic event.
  • Negative changes in diet and sleep patterns, as well as being tense, jumpy, nervous, and easily agitated.
  • Isolation due to unjustified feelings of self-blame and guilt.

While some patients show a speedy recovery period of about six months, less fortunate ones suffer from these symptoms for longer.

“PTSD is a whole-body tragedy, an integral human event of enormous proportions with massive repercussions.” Susan Pease Banitt

Care and Support for PTSD Patients

Whether acute (short term) or chronic, PTSD can harm not only the patient but everyone around him or her.

“You can’t patch a wounded soul with a Band-Aid.” Michael Connelly

Thus, if you suspect your loved ones of potentially suffering from PTSD, make it a point to seek early medical intervention. Otherwise, aside from the symptoms mentioned above, your loved ones may also have to bear with the following consequences if PTSD is left untreated:

  • PTSD patients often resort to substance abuse, in a futile attempt to somehow temporarily cover up their deepest anxieties. However, these ugly habits only fuel the fire of self-destruction.
  • PTSD patients are more emotionally volatile, especially when triggered by unsuspecting objects or activities reminding them of the trauma. When anger arises, intelligence is lost; and even the most loving and soft-spoken person can potentially end up violently hurting anyone around him, causing irreparable damage
  • PTSD may lead to isolation, loneliness, and depression, all of which constitute the road to self-inflicted pain or suicide.

If you have suspicions and observe possible indications of PTSD in anyone close to you, please contact us immediately. The key to successfully overcoming this dark cloud is to find a silver lining and show it to the patient. A ray of hope is all it takes to help someone see the bright side of things and possibly save his or her life, and we have the tools and expertise to provide that hope.

“We don’t heal in isolation, but in community.” S. Kelley Harrell

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