Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
When you hear the term “post-traumatic stress disorder” or “PTSD,” what do you think of first? Most of us think of individuals who have experienced violent combat and statistics do show that one in five veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been diagnosed with PTSD. But let’s step back a little and recognize that there are many other individuals in our midst struggling with this condition: young children who have witnessed violence, sexual assault victims, car accident victims, and individuals who have suddenly lost a loved one just to name a few. According to The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), PTSD is “a disorder that develops in some people who have experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous event.” It’s important to note that not every traumatized person develops ongoing or even short-term PTSD and not everyone with PTSD has experienced a dangerous event. But according to the National Center for PTSD, about 7 or 8 out of every 100 people will experience PTSD at some point in their lives and women are more likely to develop PTSD than men. Research has shown that some people have “resilience factors” or characteristics that make them less likely to experience PTSD. These factors might be their willingness to seek out support quickly after the traumatic event, positive coping strategies already in place prior to the event and/or an ability to act and respond effectively despite feeling fear.
Signs & Symptoms of PTSD include:
- Flashbacks, bad dreams, and frightening thoughts
- Staying away from places/events/objects that are reminders of the traumatic experience
- Avoiding thoughts or feelings related to the traumatic event
- Being easily startled/feeling tense or on edge
- Difficulty sleeping
- Angry outbursts
- Negative thoughts about oneself
- Feelings of guilt/blame
- Loss of interest in enjoyable activities
Treatment and Therapies:
Typical treatments for PTSD include medications, psychotherapy, or both. But keep in mind, that everyone is different so what may work for one sufferer might not work for another. That is why it is critical to find a well-qualified, experienced clinician.
Clinical Trials: Because physicians at NIMH are dedicated to research, hundreds of PTSD clinical trials are occurring all around the country. If you or someone you know is interested in finding out more about being a part of these trials, go to www.ClinicalTrials.gov to learn more.
National Center for PTSD: The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has created a very informative website to help not only veterans but the general public learn more about PTSD. This website (www.ptsd.va.gov) has information about PTSD mobile apps that can be used for online coaching. The app has been downloaded over 100,000 times in 74 countries around the world. It provides reliable information, tools for screening and tracking your symptoms, direct links to support and help and has convenient, easy-to-use tools to help you handle stress symptoms. The apps are not intended to replace professional care but are meant to be used in conjunction with a health care provider.