Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
I suffer from severe post traumatic stress disorder often known as PTSD from my deployment to Iraq. The goal of this page is to educate
whoever reads it on exactly what PTSD is, what causes it, what the symptoms are, how it's treated, how it's triggered, etc.
It's very important that you are well educated when you're dealing with someone that suffers with PTSD on a regular basis. This way you can get a better understanding of their actions, why they may act a certain way, and just simply get a grasp of what exactly it is that they are dealing with.
What is PTSDFrom WebMD: IN THIS ARTICLE Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), once called shell shock or battle fatigue syndrome, is a serious condition that can develop after a person has experienced or witnessed a traumatic or terrifying event in which serious physical harm occurred or was threatened. PTSD is a lasting consequence of traumatic ordeals that cause intense fear, helplessness, or horror, such as a sexual or physical assault, the unexpected death of a loved one, an accident, war, or natural disaster. Families of victims can also develop PTSD, as can emergency personnel and rescue workers.
Most people who experience a traumatic event will have reactions that may include shock, anger, nervousness, fear, and even guilt. These reactions are common, and for most people, they go away over time. For a person with PTSD, however, these feelings continue and even increase, becoming so strong that they keep the person from living a normal life. People with PTSD have symptoms for longer than one month and cannot function as well as before the event occurred.
What Are the Symptoms of PTSD?From WebMD: Symptoms of PTSD often are grouped into four main categories, including:
Reliving: People with PTSD repeatedly relive the ordeal through thoughts and memories of the trauma. These may include flashbacks, hallucinations, and nightmares. They also may feel great distress when certain things remind them of the trauma, such as the anniversary date of the event.
Avoiding: The person may avoid people, places, thoughts, or situations that may remind him or her of the trauma. This can lead to feelings of detachment and isolation from family and friends, as well as a loss of interest in activities that the person once enjoyed.
Increased arousal: These include excessive emotions; problems relating to others, including feeling or showing affection; difficulty falling or staying asleep; irritability; outbursts of anger; difficulty concentrating; and being "jumpy" or easily startled. The person may also suffer physical symptoms, such as increased blood pressure and heart rate, rapid breathing, muscle tension, nausea, and diarrhea.
Negative Cognitions and Mood: This refers to thoughts and feelings related to blame, estrangement, and memories of the traumatic event.
How Is PTSD Treated?From WebMD: The goal of PTSD treatment is to reduce the emotional and physical symptoms, to improve daily functioning, and to help the person better cope with the event that triggered the disorder. Treatment for PTSD may involve psychotherapy (a type of counseling), medication, or both.
MedicationDoctors use certain antidepressant medications to treat PTSD -- and to control the feelings of anxiety and its associated symptoms -- including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Paxil, Celexa, Luvox, Prozac, and Zoloft; and tricyclic antidepressants such as Elavil and Doxepin. Mood stabilizers such as Depakote and Lamictal and atypical antipsychotics such as Seroquel and Abilify are sometimes used. Certain blood pressure medicines are also sometimes used to control particular symptoms. For example prazosin may be used for nightmares, or propranolol may be used to help minimize the formation of traumatic memories. "Experts discourage the use of tranquilizers such as Ativan or Klonopin for PTSD because studies have not shown them to be helpful, plus they carry a risk for physical dependence or addiction.
PsychotherapyPsychotherapy for PTSD involves helping the person learn skills to manage symptoms and develop ways of coping. Therapy also aims to teach the person and his or her family about the disorder, and help the person work through the fears associated with the traumatic event. A variety of psychotherapy approaches are used to treat people with PTSD, including:
Cognitive behavioral therapy, which involves learning to recognize and change thought patterns that lead to troublesome emotions, feelings, and behavior.
Prolonged exposure therapy, a type of behavioral therapy that involves having the person re-live the traumatic experience, or exposing the person to objects or situations that cause anxiety. This is done in a well-controlled and safe environment. Prolonged exposure therapy helps the person confront the fear and gradually become more comfortable with situations that are frightening and cause anxiety. This has been very successful at treating PTSD.
Psychodynamic therapy focuses on helping the person examine personal values and the emotional conflicts caused by the traumatic event.
Family therapy may be useful because the behavior of the person with PTSD can have an affect on other family members.
Group therapy may be helpful by allowing the person to share thoughts, fears, and feelings with other people who have experienced traumatic events.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a complex form of psychotherapy that was initially designed to alleviate distress associated with traumatic memories and is now also used to treat phobias.
Steps You Can Take to Help Someone With PTSDYou can take steps to help someone with PTSD. Learn about the disorder so you can relate to what your loved one is going through and know what to expect. Talk to your loved one, and acknowledge spoken feelings. Encourage treatment as it’s paramount for recovery. Invite your loved one to accompany you for a walk or some other peaceful activity. It’s good for the person to rejoin the world. Show your support in all ways, and above all, be patient.
People who suffer from PTSD feel like they’ve lost control. Taking an active role in your loved one’s recovery can help to empower them. One good practice is to focus on repairing the rift the trauma left behind. Encourage your loved one to spend time with family and friends and to leave the house for a little while each day. You might advise becoming involved in PTSD awareness as a step toward empowerment. The smallest action can help a person regain control.
Talking to Someone With PTSDWhen talking to your loved one about PTSD, be clear and to the point. Stay positive, and don’t forget to be a good listener. When your loved one speaks, repeat what you understand and ask questions when you need more information. Don’t interrupt or argue, but instead voice your feelings clearly. Don’t assume your loved one knows how you feel if you don’t express it. PTSD is hard on everyone involved with the victim.
Help your loved one put feelings into words. Ask about specific feelings, and ask what you can do to help. Lastly, don’t give advice unless your loved one requests it.
What Is the Outlook for People With PTSD?From WebMD: Recovery from PTSD is a gradual and ongoing process. Symptoms of PTSD seldom disappear completely, but treatment can help sufferers learn to cope more effectively. Treatment can lead to fewer and less intense symptoms, as well as a greater ability to cope by managing feelings related to the trauma.
Research is ongoing into the factors that lead to PTSD and into finding new treatments.