What is post traumatic stress disorder?
What is PTSD? Often times we hear stories of soldiers coming home from war who struggle with this problem.
It can be a challenge for people who serve in the military, and it affects many more people than we realize.
PTSD stands for post traumatic stress disorder. But what does it mean and what causes it?
Understanding psychological trauma
First lets take a look at what we mean by psychologial trauma. A traumatic event is any stressful experience that overwhelms your body, mind or emotions.
Sometimes your body and mind have a difficult time processing these stressful events and this is where the symptoms of post traumatic stress begin.
Everyone has probably experienced something they could consider traumatic. Trauma is a subjective experience.
This is why two people might experience the same event and one person struggles with PTSD while the other person doesn’t.
It doesnt’ mean it wasn’t traumatic, it means that everyone processes experiences differently.
What are the symptoms of PTSD?
The symptoms of PTSD can begin to occur soon after the event happens, or they may not surface for months or even years later.
There are 4 common signs to consider if you’re struggling with PTSD.
1) Reliving memories: This is what we often call a flashback. You might have memories of a bad experience that contine to bother you. Perhaps you’re ruminating or playing an event over and over in your head. Nightmares are a common symptom of reliving an event.
2) Avoiding people or places: Often times people avoid certain things that remind them of their experience. Getting extremely uncomfortable in certain situations for no apparent reason could be a sign of PTSD.
3) Having negative beliefs or feelings: You might feel guilty or ashamed of yourself for what happened. Having low self esteem, losing interest in things, or having difficulty trusting people are signs of negative beliefs.
4) Feeling anxiuos or on edge: People often describe anxiety or feeling irritable. You might experience suddens bursts of anger, have difficulty sleeping, or feel uncomfortable in certain social situations.
The effects of living with PTSD
People that struggle with the effects of PTSD often describe feeling constantly on edge. It can be a very miserable way to live.
The reason you might be feeling this way is because there’s something in your thoughts, your emotions, or a physcial sensation that keeps getting triggered.
It’s like having an open wound that won’t heal. It continues to bother you every time something happens that reminds you of your injury.
It’s that feeling that something is “stuck” and just won’t go away. The stuck feeling might be a certain memory, an uncomfrotable feeling, or trouble sleeping.
The good news is that you don’t have live with these problems. The mental health community is beginning to better understand the ways that PTSD can affect people’s lives, and finding more effective ways to help.
How do you treat PTSD?
If you’re living with the symptoms of PTSD you know how disruptive it can feel.
The goal of PTSD treatment is to heal the things that are triggering your discomfort. Thes triggers might include memories, thoughts, beliefs, physcial sensations, people, social situations and more.
One very effective treatment for PTSD is known as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing or EMDR therapy.
EMDR is a specialized form of therapy that is designed to help your mind and body heal from the things triggering your symptoms.
Anxiety in social situations can be a symptom of PTSD
What to do if you think you have PTSD
There are a lot of challenges that come with PTSD. If you think you’re struggling with this mental health problem you can seek help from a professional service.
Professional services can include talking with your doctor or physician, talking to a counselor or therapist, a clergy member, visit a mental health facility, contact your local veterans administration (VA) if you’re a veteran, or talk with a family member to begin.
Some practical ways to begin processing your trauma is using a journal to write down your private thoughts and experiences. Find a trusted friend or family member that you can talk with.
If you ever find your thoughts are becoming dangerous or suicidal you can contact the Colorado Crisis Services.
You don’t have to struggle alone. If you find that you’re struggling with your mental wellness reach out for the help and support that you need.
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