Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: Understanding and Overcoming PTSD

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By:Donnakris M. Lopez

 

Thoughts of suicide are normal for many of us who suffer depression etc. We need to discuss this things openly. PTSD can affect a person’s ability to work, perform day to day activities or relate to their family and friends. A person with PTSD can often seem disinterested or distant as they try not to think or feel in order to block out painful memories. They may stop participating in family life, ignore offers of help or become irritable.

It is very important to know more about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that we can help someone with PTSD. People with PTSD needs our support and prayers. Let us find out how!

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD

According to Anxiety and Depression Association of America (AADA), Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, is a serious potentially debilitating condition that can occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a natural disasters, serious accident, terrorist incident, and sudden death of a loved one, war, violent personal assault, such as rape or other life-threatening events. Most people who experience such events recover from them, but people with PTSD continue to be depressed and anxious for months or even years following the event. It is occasionally called post-traumatic stress reaction to emphasize that it is a routine result of traumatic experience. Women are twice as likely to develop post traumatic stress as men, and children also develop it. PTSD often occurs with depression, substance abuse, or other anxiety disorders.

Who can get PTSD?

Anyone can get PTSD at any age. This includes war veterans and survivors of physical and sexual assault, abuse, accidents, disasters and many other traumatic events. Not everyone with PTSD has been through a dangerous event. Some people get PTSD after a friend or family member experiences danger or harm. The sudden, unexpected death of a loved one can also cause PTSD.

What are the signs of symptoms?
Specific symptoms of PTSD

The person has been exposed to a traumatic event in which the person experienced, witnessed, or was confronted with an event or events that involved actual or threatened death or serious injury or a treat to the physical integrity of self or others and the person’s response involve intense fear, helplessness or horror.

The traumatic event is persistently reexperienced in one or more of the following ways:

Recurrent and intrusive distressing recollections of the event, including images, thoughts, or perceptions.
• Recurrent distressing dreams of the event.
• Acting or feeling as if the traumatic event were recurring (includes a sense of reliving the experience, illusions, hallucinations, and dissociative flashback episodes, including those that occur on awakening or when intoxicated).
• Intense psychological distress at exposure to internal or external cues that symbolize or resemble an aspect of the traumatic event
• Physiological reactivity on exposure to internal or external cues that symbolize or resemble an aspect of the traumatic event

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The individual also has persistent avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma and numbing of general responsiveness (not present before the trauma), as indicated by 3 or more of the following:

• Efforts to avoid thoughts, feelings, or conversations associated with the trauma
• Efforts to avoid activities, places, or people that arouse recollections of the trauma
• Inability to recall an important aspect of the trauma
• Significantly diminished interest or participation in significant activities
• Feeling of detachment or estrangement from others
• Restricted range of affect (e.g., unable to have loving feelings)
• Sense of a foreshortened future (e.g., does not expect to have a career, marriage, children, or a normal life span)


Persistent symptoms of increased arousal (not present before the trauma), as indicated by 2 or more of the following:

• Difficulty falling or staying asleep
• Irritability or outbursts of anger
• Difficulty concentrating
• Hypervigilance
• Exaggerated startle response

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p>Who is at risk?

PTSD risk factor Includes:
Anyone who has experienced or witnessed a frightening, life-threatening event can develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Military combat veterans, accident victims, people who have survived a natural disaster, rape victims, and children who have been abused can all be subject to PTSD. Even if you were not personally hurt during a traumatic event, seeing others get hurt or killed can lead you to experience PTSD. Some people are more likely than others to suffer from PTSD. Certain risk factors that are present in the individual before the event can affect how they respond to the event. People who have lived through multiple traumatic events, those who have a history of mental illness, those without strong social support, and those who have also experienced financial or emotional stresses unrelated to the event, may be more at risk for developing PTSD.

Getting help for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

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If you suspect that you or a loved one has post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), it’s important to seek help right away. The sooner PTSD is confronted, the easier it is to overcome. If you’re reluctant to seek help, keep in mind that PTSD is not a sign of weakness, and the only way to overcome it is to confront what happened to you and learn to accept it as a part of your past. This process is much easier with the guidance and support of an experienced therapist or doctor.

It’s only natural to want to avoid painful memories and feelings. But if you try to numb yourself and push your memories away, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) will only get worse. You can’t escape your emotions completely—they emerge under stress or whenever you let down your guard—and trying to do so is exhausting. The avoidance will ultimately harm your relationships, your ability to function, and the quality of your life.

Why Should I Seek Help for PTSD?

Early treatment is better. Symptoms of PTSD may get worse. Dealing with them now might help stop them from getting worse in the future. Finding out more about what treatments work, where to look for help, and what kind of questions to ask can make it easier to get help and lead to better outcomes.

PTSD symptoms can change family life. PTSD symptoms can get in the way of your family life. You may find that you pull away from loved ones, are not able to get along with people, or that you are angry or even violent. Getting help for your PTSD can help improve your family life.

 PTSD can be related to other health problems
. PTSD symptoms can make physical health problems worse. For example, studies have shown a relationship between PTSD and heart trouble. By getting help for your PTSD you could also improve your physical health.

Source: National Center for PTSD

Treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Treatment for PTSD relieves symptoms by helping you deal with the trauma you’ve experienced. Rather than avoiding the trauma and any reminder of it, treatment will encourage you to recall and process the emotions and sensations you felt during the original event. In addition to offering an outlet for emotions you’ve been bottling up, treatment for PTSD will also help restore your sense of control and reduce the powerful hold the memory of the trauma has on your life.
In treatment for PTSD, you’ll:
 Explore your thoughts and feelings about the trauma
 Work through feelings of guilt, self-blame, and mistrust
 Learn how to cope with and control intrusive memories
 Address problems PTSD has caused in your life and relationships

Types of treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

 Trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy. Cognitive-behavioral therapy for PTSD and trauma involves carefully and gradually “exposing” yourself to thoughts, feelings, and situations that remind you of the trauma. Therapy also involves identifying upsetting thoughts about the traumatic event–particularly thoughts that are distorted and irrational—and replacing them with more balanced picture.

 Family therapy. Since PTSD affects both you and those close to you, family therapy can be especially productive. Family therapy can help your loved ones understand what you’re going through. It can also help everyone in the family communicate better and work through relationship problems caused by PTSD symptoms.

How can family and friends help people with post-traumatic stress disorder?

Family and friends can:
• Keep a look out for behavioural changes, such as taking time off from work.
• Look out for mood changes such as anger and irritability.
• Provide a sympathetic ear and ask general questions.
• Give the person time to talk and not interrupt them.

Medication is sometimes prescribed to people with PTSD to relieve secondary symptoms of depression or anxiety. Antidepressants such as Prozac and Zoloft are the medications most commonly used for PTSD. While antidepressants may help you feel less sad, worried, or on edge, they do not treat the causes of PTSD.

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) incorporates elements of cognitive-behavioral therapy with eye movements or other forms of rhythmic, left-right stimulation, such as hand taps or sounds. Eye movements and other bilateral forms of stimulation are thought to work by “unfreezing” the brain’s information processing system, which is interrupted in times of extreme stress.

Finding a therapist for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

When looking for a therapist for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), seek out mental health professionals who specialize in the treatment of trauma and PTSD. You can start by asking your doctor if he or she can provide a referral to therapists with experience treating trauma. You may also want to ask other trauma survivors for recommendations, or call a local mental health clinic, psychiatric hospital, or counseling center.
Beyond credentials and experience, it’s important to find a PTSD therapist who makes you feel comfortable and safe, so there is no additional fear or anxiety about the treatment itself. Trust your gut; if a therapist doesn’t feel right, look for someone else. For therapy to work, you need to feel respected and understood. To find a trauma therapist, see the Resources and References section below.

Self-help treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Recovery from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a gradual, ongoing process. Healing doesn’t happen overnight, nor do the memories of the trauma ever disappear completely. This can make life seem difficult at times. But there are many things you can do to cope with residual symptoms and reduce your anxiety and fear.

PTSD self-help tip 1: Reach out to others for support

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can make you feel disconnected from others. You may be tempted to withdraw from social activities and your loved ones. But it’s important to stay connected to life and the people who care about you. Support from other people is vital to your recovery from PTSD, so ask your close friends and family members for their help during this tough time.

Also consider joining a support group for survivors of the same type of trauma you experienced. Support groups for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can help you feel less isolated and alone. They also provide invaluable information on how to cope with symptoms and work towards recovery. If you can’t find a support group in your area, look for an online group.

PTSD self-help tip 2: Avoid alcohol and drugs

When you’re struggling with difficult emotions and traumatic memories, you may be tempted to self-medicate with alcohol or drugs. But while alcohol or drugs may temporarily make you feel better, they make post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) worse in the long run. Substance use worsens many symptoms of PTSD, including emotional numbing, social isolation, anger, and depression. It also interferes with treatment and can add to problems at home and in your relationships.

PTSD self-help tip 3: Challenge your sense of helplessness
Overcoming your sense of helplessness is key to overcoming post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Trauma leaves you feeling powerless and vulnerable. It’s important to remind yourself that you have strengths and coping skills that can get you through tough times.
One of the best ways to reclaim your sense of power is by helping others: volunteer your time, give blood, reach out to a friend in need, or donate to your favorite charity. Taking positive action directly challenges the sense of helplessness that is a common symptom of PTSD.

Positive ways of coping with PTSD:
 Learn about trauma and PTSD
 Join a PTSD support group
 Practice relaxation techniques
 Pursue outdoor activities
 Confide in a person you trust
 Spend time with positive people
 Avoid alcohol and drugs
 Enjoy the peace of nature

PTSD self-help tip 4: Spend time in nature
The Sierra Club in the United States offers wilderness expeditions for veterans who have served in recent wars such as Iraq and Afghanistan. Anecdotal evidence suggests that pursuing outdoor activities like hiking, camping, mountain biking, rock climbing, whitewater rafting, and skiing may help veterans cope with PTSD symptoms and transition back into civilian life.
It’s not just veterans who can benefit from spending time outdoors. Anyone with post-traumatic stress disorder can benefit from the relaxation, seclusion, and peace that come with being in the natural world. Focusing on strenuous outdoor activities can also help challenge your sense of helplessness and help your nervous system become “unstuck” and move on from the traumatic event. Seek out local organizations that offer outdoor recreation or teambuilding opportunities.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and the family

If a loved one has post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), it’s essential that you take care of yourself and get extra support. PTSD can take a heavy toll on the family if you let it. It can be hard to understand why your loved one won’t open up to you—why he or she is less affectionate and more volatile. The symptoms of PTSD can also result in job loss, substance abuse, and other stressful problems.

Letting your family member’s PTSD dominate your life while ignoring your own needs is a surefire recipe for burnout. In order to take care of your loved one, you first need to take care of yourself. It’s also helpful to learn all you can about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The more you know about the symptoms and treatment options, the better equipped you’ll be to help your loved one and keep things in perspective.

Helping a loved one with PTSD

 Be patient and understanding. Getting better takes time, even when a person is committed to treatment for PTSD. Be patient with the pace of recovery and offer a sympathetic ear. A person with PTSD may need to talk about the traumatic event over and over again. This is part of the healing process, so avoid the temptation to tell your loved one to stop rehashing the past and move on.

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 Try to anticipate and prepare for PTSD triggers. Common triggers include anniversary dates; people or places associated with the trauma; and certain sights, sounds, or smells. If you are aware of what triggers may cause an upsetting reaction, you’ll be in a better position to offer your support and help your loved one calm down.

 Don’t take the symptoms of PTSD personally. Common symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) include emotional numbness, anger, and withdrawal. If your loved one seems distant, irritable, or closed off, remember that this may not have anything to do with you or your relationship.

 Don’t pressure your loved one into talking. It is very difficult for people with PTSD to talk about their traumatic experiences. For some, it can even make things worse. Never try to force your loved one to open up. Let the person know, however, that you’re there when and if he or she wants to talk.

Sources:
http://bbrfoundation.org/frequently-asked-questions-about-post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd
http://psychcentral.com/disorders/sx32.htm
http://www.helpguide.org/mental/post_traumatic_stress_disorder_symptoms_treatment.htm
http://www.patient.co.uk/health/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-leaflet#

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