June 6, 2016

PTSD Awareness Month

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PTSD Awareness Month

“One night in January 2015, two Stanford University graduate students biking across campus spotted a freshman thrusting his body on top of an unconscious, half-naked woman behind a dumpster.” (more)

“I know you asked for stories of veterans dealing VA and I’m not one of them, hell I’m almost as far away from The United States as you can possibly get. But today I couldn’t escape what I had done more than 40 years ago. Although I came back, I’ve never escaped. And although I survived, how much of me died in the piece of shit swamp?” (more)

helmet-1421532-639x426June is National PTSD Awareness Month. Often when we think of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, we think of soldiers from the battlefield. You don’t have to be a soldier to find yourself in the grip of PTSD. Experiencing or witnessing a terrifying event can cause PTSD. The first quote above goes on to tell the story of a woman who perfectly describes the experience of PTSD. Her sleepless nights, weight loss, fear of touch. The second quote talks about the guilt and the feeling of having left part of himself behind on the battleground.

PTSD manifests itself as nightmares or reliving an event with uncontrollable thoughts that occur over and over. Those with PTSD often have exaggerated negative beliefs about themselves and the world. The negative feelings extend to their emotional state which includes an inability to feel positive emotions. With a detachment from people, those with PTSD show a loss of interest to participate in usual life activities. People with PTSD find themselves short of money and decide to use a veterans disability lawyer Tennessee to try to claim benefits.

Other symptoms of PTSD can be irritability, hypervigilance, and an easy startle response.

These symptoms of PTSD can begin within three months of the frightening or dangerous incident, but it can also take years before the symptoms manifest themselves.

“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)

If you have experienced a trauma and are feel that the symptoms of PTSD apply to you, do not wait to get help. Living with PTSD is painful and for some, dangerous. Treating PTSD can come in many forms, or, more productively in a combination of forms.

Behavioral Therapy – changing specific actions using several techniques to decreases or stop unwanted behavior. Exposure to what is frightening may be gradual. Another tool is slow, deep breathing to reduce hyperventilating.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – teaching patients to react differently to the situations and bodily sensations that trigger panic attacks associated with PTSD. Learning to change thinking patterns as well as responses to situations provides tools for overcoming the triggers of PTSD.

Medication – anti-anxiety medications. There are several medications available allowing a doctor to find the prescription that fits the patient. By starting at a low dose, the doctor can ultimately land at a low but effective dose. The need for medication may be brief or long-term.
girl-on-stairs-1216043-639x426Providing support for someone with PTSD may be the most important strategy of treatment. As a friend, significant other, or another family member, you can provide support for someone with PTSD by first recognizing the symptoms of PTSD.

Once you recognize the symptoms of PTSD, you can help your friend or loved one get help. Finding a professional that specializes in PTSD can be through your general practitioner, your insurance provider, or local PTSD support group.

Support and information about PTSD is available on The Veterans Administration website. The VA provides PTSD information for veterans and non-veterans alike.

Sources:

Deployment Psych
Veterans Administration
eMedicine.Medscape
The American Psychological Association
National Institue of Mental Health