PTSD Facts You Should Know
What is PTSD?
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, is listed in the DSM a psychiatric disorder. It can manifest after witnessing or experiencing any number of life-threatening situations. This includes military combat, terrorist attacks, natural disasters, major accidents, and even personal assaults of a violent nature. Those who are affected by it frequently relive the negative effects of the experience. This can be manifested in the form of nightmares or even flashbacks. It is not uncommon to find restful sleep difficult. Other symptoms are feeling detached or alienated. At times the symptoms are severe enough to impair the person’s life on a daily basis.
PTSD is identified not only via psychological symptoms, but by biological changes as well. Complicating matters is the fact that other disorders are often present at the same time. These can include memory problems, depression, substance use or abuse as well as additional physical and mental health issues. Family and work life is often disruped, as the person has difficulty functioning in a social context with negative consequences to all involved.
Is PTSD normal?
The symptoms associated with PTSD are considered to be normal reactions to specific types of trauma. In this context we mean it is an understandable adjustment to a traumatic or serious event. However, when a survivor is going through the symptoms, they are said to feel anything but normal. As the person attempts to grasp what is happening to them, both in mind and body, they may notice an increase in anxiety. While those who suffer feel anything but normal, the disorder is considered normal in that the symptoms are an understandable reaction to the past trauma. By validating post-traumatic stress disorder as normal in this way, those who suffer (as well as their families) realize that they aren’t crazy. They often find relief that there is a method used to diagnose and treat it.
What treatments are available?
There are different modalities of treatment for PTSD. These include prolonged exposure therapy and cognitive therapy, coping skills training as well as cogntitive and behavorial treatment. Pharmacotherapy and group therapy have also been used with measured success. Another method called eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) has been found to be effective as well. Medications are commonly prescribed during the therapy process. Newer, complementary alternative medical therapies have been beneficial, including transcendental meditation, tai chi and aikido. What is important is comprising a tailored treatment plan for each individual, adjusting as necessary until positive outcomes are obtained.
Will PTSD ever go away?
People who suffer from PTSD, in most cases, do not suffer for the rest of their lives. With proper therapies, many (if not all) of the symptoms can be alleviated or stopped. However, there are some cases whereby the trauma is excessively horrific or repeated over such a long timeframe that there may be a few symptoms which continue on even with therapy.
How do I find help?
The National Center for PTSD can help. Click here to go to their website. If you are in a crisis, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room or call 1-800-273-8255. Veterans press 1 after you call.
Books on PTSD and VA Benefits
- Transcendental Meditation Could Reduce PTSD Symptoms In Veterans (pdresources.wordpress.com)
- A Veteran With Depression and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (everydayhealth.com)
- 10 Things You Can Do to Help Veterans with PTSD (offthebase.wordpress.com)
- PTSD and Suicide Risk (everydayhealth.com)
- Military PTSD Forum
- Combat PTSD Forum
- PTSD Blog