Understanding Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Posted by Collaborative Counseling
According to the American Psychiatric Association Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, can occur when a person has experienced or witnessed a traumatic event. These can be events such as war, rape, a serious accident, or a natural disaster. PTSD can happen when there is a threat to a person’s livelihood or sense of safety. Those with PTSD tend to have reoccurring thoughts, flashbacks, or even nightmares that are related to the traumatic event they experienced. They may feel sadness, anger, fear, or even detachment from others. They also tend to avoid putting themselves in situations that could remind them of the traumatic event. For example, a soldier who is experiencing PTSD after being in a war zone may avoid fireworks or loud noises that resemble gun fire as it brings back many memories and feelings associated with being in the war.
Myths about PTSD
There are several myths surrounding PTSD and those who have it. Often people think of veterans who have returned home from war. However, the disorder affects people who have experienced all kinds of trauma ranging from sexual abuse to the sudden death of a loved one. Another common myth is that if you experience trauma, then you will develop PTSD. About 1 in 3 people who have experienced trauma will develop PTSD.
Many people who experience trauma do not develop PTSD but will display symptoms of stress following the incident such as insomnia, anxiety or depression. However, these people tend to recover from their symptoms. Those who do not and whose symptoms worsen or intensify over time, develop PTSD.
What are things that make a person vulnerable to PTSD?
There are some risk factors when it comes to developing PTSD. These include:
- having little to no support system following the event
- having a pre-existing anxiety or depression
- Gender: Women are more likely than men to develop PTSD
- Genetics: There is evidence to suggest that genes may play a role in making some more susceptible than others to the disorder
- Added stress following the event such as losing a job or a loved one
According to the APA, this disorder affects roughly 3.5% of the American population with an estimated 1 in 11 people with experience PTSD throughout some point in their life. This means that an acquaintance, a friend, or even a close relative of yours could experience or may currently be experiencing this disorder. With that being said, you may wonder how you personally can help your loved one(s) who suffers from this disorder.
How do I help someone who is struggling with a traumatic event?
Here are a few suggestions from the National Center for PTSD if you know someone who may be struggling with a traumatic event:
- Learn about all you can about PTSD. Here are a couple links to help you get started: https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/ptsd/what-is-ptsd and https://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/ptsd-overview/basics/what-is-ptsd.asp.
- Offer to accompany them to doctor visits or help keep track of their appointments and medications.
- Let them know you are there to listen to them and be there to listen when they need you.
- Plan outings or activities.
- Encourage physical activity. Go on a walk or a bike ride together.
- Help them stay connected to friends and family. Encourage them to continue to have close relationships.
If you or someone you know is struggling with a traumatic event, you do not need to suffer alone and we suggest you reach out to meet with a therapist to help you in processing and navigating any reactions you may be having. For more information about PTSD visit our website at: https://www.collaborativemn.com/issues-we-specialize-treating/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd