PTSD Awareness: Finding Support You Need
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. PTSD. This is a well-known condition that affects thousands of people today. Thankfully, it is much more studied than in previous generations, and we know the signs and PTSD triggers that make things worse.
Whether you have experience with PTSD because you are around the military, or you or someone in your life lived through a traumatic experience, chances are you have been witness to this condition. PTSD awareness is on the rise.
Around 7% of adults will be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, while almost 90% of adults in America will experience at least one traumatic event. However, just because you experience a traumatic event does not mean you will have PTSD.
At Miologi, our goal is to bring our readers the most relevant information on a variety of conditions.
Post-traumatic stress disorder develops in certain people after a stressful, dangerous, or shocking event. While it is appropriate to feel fear during and after the event, some people experience a long-term reaction. Not everyone recovers from the traumatic event immediately.
Traumatic or stressful events trigger your body’s “fight-or-flight” response. This response is a typical reaction intended to protect someone from danger. However, some people continue to have an emotional response even when they are safe from harm.
Typically, when one thinks of PTSD, they think of veterans or soldiers. Sometimes PTSD is even called shell shock or battle fatigue. This idea is understandable as those serving in our armed forces are subject to dangerous and traumatic events at a higher rate than the general public.
However, there are many other events in life that can cause an emotional reaction and lead to a diagnosis of PTSD. Sometimes a serious car accident, a violent assault, an unplanned death of someone close, or natural disaster can cause PTSD.
Experiencing strong emotions during a difficult or stressful time is normal. For some people, the feelings don’t go away. In many cases, the person struggling with PTSD is unable to participate in ordinary life.
Symptoms of PTSD
While everyone experiences PTSD differently depending on the originating event, there are typical symptoms that generally appear in the first three months. Sometimes, the first symptoms take years to come to light, though.
- Reliving the event: It is common to relieve the initial event with thoughts, dreams, and flashbacks, or to experience stress on the anniversary.
- Avoidance: Many who have PTSD will stay away from certain people, places, or things that may trigger an episode.
- Emotional reactions: Often highly emotional reactions occur in daily interactions and events.
- Physical reactions: Many times elevated blood pressure, and heart rate, accelerated breathing, tension in muscles, and a feeling of nausea occur.
PTSD DiagnosisWhile it is excellent to see a doctor immediately after a traumatic event, the doctor will not diagnose you with PTSD for at least a month. Before a doctor diagnoses an adult with PTSD, he or she will want to see each of the following for at least one month:
- A re-experiencing episode, if not more.
- A avoidance episode, if not more.
- More than one arousal and reactivity episode.
- More than one cognition and mood episode.
If all of these are present, your doctor will want a full medical history and to perform a physical exam. There are no tests that will give a definitive diagnosis, though a variety of lab tests can be useful in ruling out other conditions.
PTSD and Pain
While most assume PTSD primarily affects your mental and emotional health, studies are suggesting it can cause chronic pain, as well. Studies are showing that patients diagnosed with PTSD also have a higher chance of suffering from circulatory, digestive, musculoskeletal, nervous system, and respiratory conditions. PTSD awareness requires everyone to understand that there are physical aspects, as well.
Chronic pain is pain that lasts for more than three months. In the case of many who suffer from PTSD pain is all-too-common symptoms. According to the International Association for the Study of Pain, pain can involve thoughts and feelings rather than physical attributes, alone.
While treatment will depend wholly upon the cause of PTSD, many medications and therapies have proven helpful to countless sufferers of PTSD.
A conventional medication for PTSD is antidepressants, which aim to help feelings of sadness, anger, and worry. Medications to help with sleep are also typical, as a common problem is being unable to sleep. Likely, it will take some trial and error to find a medication plan that works for your specific case.
Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, has proven very useful for a variety of the causes of PTSD. This talk therapy can happen in a one-to-one situation, or in a group session. The initial treatment will typically last between six and twelve weeks, though it is common to go to group meetings for support continually.
In your talk therapy sessions, you will likely learn effective ways to deal with PTSD triggers, as well as what to do when symptoms come on.
At Home Treatments
While seeking help from a licensed professional is essential, there are things you can do at home. Living with mental illness requires coping mechanisms and special considerations in your daily life.
- Exercise regularly to reduce stress
- Set goals that are attainable
- If a job seems too large, take it one step at a time. Set priorities to get things done on time and in the right order.
- Surround yourself with supportive people. Allow yourself to trust a close friend with difficult things.
- Make sure your inner circle understands your triggers
- Know healing takes time and don’t rush the process.