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Knowing PTSD and its impact

What is PTSD?

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an mental health condition that some people experience after seeing or living through a traumatic event or any situation where there is a perceived threat.  Traumatic events can include tornadoes, plane crashes, murders, school shootings, car accidents, bombings, the death of a loved one, sexual assaults, abuse or any other negative event that has a significant impact on one or more people. Often, the anniversary of a traumatic event can bring about several days or weeks of anxiety, fear, nightmares, depression, and flashbacks.

PTSD can interfere with daily tasks by hindering their interests in otherwise pleasurable activities and events, compounding other mental health conditions like depression and anxiety, and have negative effects on mood and behavior.

Who can be Diagnosed with PTSD?

To be diagnosed with PTSD, symptoms must be present for more than one month, and the traumatic event must cause significant clinical distress or impairment in social, occupational or other important areas of life.

What are Some Signs of PTSD?

Complications can result from untreated PTSD, including generalized anxiety disorder, panic attacks, major depression, substance abuse and problems with health, career and relationships.

Individuals with PTSD typically experience persistent recurrences of the traumatic event. They experience intrusive thoughts, mental images and/or disturbing dreams recalling the traumatic event. Some people may experience illusions or flashbacks as if the traumatic event is reoccurring.

Any reminders of the trauma can be distressing. Avoiding anything symbolic of the event becomes a priority and can lead to alterations in behavior, general routines, or interests.

It is common for individuals with PTSD to be alert, yet unable to concentrate. PTSD can cause people to act extremely watchful to protect themselves from danger. Constant worry, anxiety, becoming easily startled and even frequent panic attacks may be common. For some people, falling asleep and staying asleep can be difficult. Rage, extreme irritability and intense agitation are also common symptoms of PTSD.

“When I see PTSD in people it just looks heavy. Many people with PTSD are very anxious — all of these symptoms create a lot of anxiety. The fear of being in traffic or running into a particular person or of a particular thing happening. People with PTSD tend to often be on-guard and it’s just very tiring and very isolating,” Lisa Eggebeen, Regional Director of Cohen Military Family Clinics at Centerstone, explains.

PTSD and Soldiers:

PTSD is very common among soldiers and veterans, affecting 12-20%. This is likely related to traumatic events that are often witnessed and experienced during combat situations.

Research suggests that the psychological toll of deployments (many involving prolonged exposures to combat-related stress over multiple rotations) may be higher compared with the physical injuries of combat.

Concerns most recently centered on two combat-related injuries in particular: PTSD and traumatic brain injury. Recent reports have referred to these as the signature wounds of the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts.

What can I Do to Help?

  • Educate yourself. Learn the symptoms of PTSD and identify the triggers and warning signs. Knowledge and acceptance are the first steps in recovery.
  • Reduce stress. Find anxiety-reducing techniques such as prayer, meditation, exercise, yoga, deep breathing or spending time with close friends and family.
  • Manage behaviors. Practice anger control and conflict-resolution skills.
  • Practice patience. Learn to forgive yourself. Learn new things. Set both short- and long-term goals. Acknowledge your accomplishments. Count your victories in the battle of PTSD recovery in incremental steps.
  • Seek support. Talk with a counselor for guidance and support. The goal of treatment is to reduce the emotional and physical symptoms of PTSD, to improve daily functioning and to help individuals cope with the traumatic event that triggered the disorder.  Many people experience notable improvements in their PTSD with only 15 sessions of therapy.

Getting Help

If you are struggling with symptoms of PTSD, Centerstone is here for you.  We have friendly professionals who are well-equipped to help you manage and overcome your PTSD.  Additionally, Centerstone’s Military Services  is well-versed in military culture and is very understanding of the distinct experiences that veterans and other military personnel have lived through.  Connect with any of our clinicians now by calling 1-877-HOPE123 (877-467-3123).

 

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