Have you ever wondered, "What is PTSD?"
And maybe you have asked yourself, "Do I have it?" On my radio show I so often hear these types of statements:
"I keep reliving the time I was raped."
"I don't feel anything anymore, I have no emotions. I'm just numb after all the abuse I went through."
"I'm constantly on edge. I can't ever let my guard down ever since I was in that horrific car accident."
These are just a few of the different faces of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
PTSD Does Not Just Affect Veterans
PTSD is often associated with those who serve in the military and rightfully so. Since 2002 over 100,000 military members have been diagnosed with PTSD. But PTSD can affect anyone who has gone through a terrifying experience that involved physical harm or the threat of physical harm. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is the pain of reliving the trauma over and over.
Since I hear the symptoms of PTSD discussed quite frequently on my radio show, I felt it would be very worthwhile to talk about this disorder today. As with everything knowledge is power and understanding is half the battle.
What are the Symptoms of PTSD?
Symptoms of PTSD can include sudden increase in heart rate, rapid breathing or difficulty catching your breath, fear, panic, despair, and anxiety, with changes in mood happening suddenly after a stress trigger. The most common and pronounced symptom of PTSD is flashbacks, which make you feel like you’re reliving a harmful or traumatic experience. The good news is that there are plenty of effective treatments for PTSD that your doctor and therapist can recommend.
If you have faced a traumatic experience here is what I want you to know:
- Not everyone who goes through a dangerous experience will get PTSD. Don't assume that just because something traumatic happened that you are destined to get PTSD. This is not the case.
- However, if you have disturbing thoughts or feelings for more than a month after a traumatic experience, please seek help. This is NOT a sign of weakness, you are NOT expected to just get over it. What you are experiencing IS REAL and needs to be dealt with.
- One factor to reducing the risk of getting PTSD is to immediately get support after a terrifying event (rape, abuse, accident, tornado, flood, war, etc.). Talk about it, join a support group, be open about how you feel. This has proven to be an important step.
- Here are some signs you should see a doctor:
- You are having trouble getting your world under control.
- You are still having flashbacks or bad dreams.
- You are stressed or frightened when you are no longer in danger.
- You are avoiding normal life and losing interest in things you loved.
- You are emotionally numb.
- You have difficulty sleeping.
- You are thinking suicidal thoughts.
- There are treatments available...Therapy, Support Groups, Medication.
- There is HOPE. With time and treatment you can overcome PTSD.
- God is with you in the journey. He says, "I will never fail you. I will never abandon you."
Now, if you know someone who has experienced a terrifying event, the role YOU play in supporting them will be key. So I'd like to offer the "support people" some advice as well:
- Be patient. It can be difficult for the person experiencing PTSD to express what they are feeling and it can make them uncomfortable to talk about it.
- NEVER assume or tell them, "It's all in your head." or "You can just get over it." or "Only veterans get PTSD."
- It is never too late for them to seek treatment. Even if the traumatic event occurred over a year ago or more, treatment is still important and effective.
- Honor their struggle to make peace with the event and don't rush it.
- Since their perspective is driven by fear, they are not always logical keep reaching out. Keep encouraging.
ALWAYS remember there is HOPE. Here are a number of resources to support you in your journey:
- RAINN (Rape, Abuse, Sexual Assault)
- Centerstone Military Services
- Trauma Checklist
- Celebrate Recovery (Hurt, Pain or Addiction Recovery)
Need someone to talk to about what is going on? My HopeCoaches are ready to chat online with you 7 days a week. It's a free and confidential live chat with a HopeCoach to help you with anything that is going on in your life. They are here to listen and support you without judgment.