Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can occur after you have been through a traumatic event. A traumatic event is something terrible and scary that you see, or that happens to you, like:
- Combat exposure
- Child sexual or physical abuse
- Terrorist attack
- Sexual or physical assault
- Serious accidents, like a car wreck
- Natural disasters, like a fire, tornado, hurricane, flood, or earthquake
During a traumatic event, you think that your life or others’ lives are in danger. You may feel afraid or feel that you have no control over what is happening around you. Most people have some stress-related reactions after a traumatic event; but, not everyone gets PTSD. If your reactions don’t go away over time and they disrupt your life, you may have PTSD.
My experience was, FLASHBACKS.
You also have something called “FLASHBACKS”. These are what I suffered from in addition to the above symptoms. When I returned from Iran and the torture I suffered there, I started having what were called “non-epileptic” seizures. These are real seizures but can not be traced to epilepsy as the cause. I also had flashbacks, and when I suffered from these I would all of a sudden just leave this world and return to the location where I suffered all the pain and torture. I would either see something that reminded me of that place or etal. Then I would either try to start physically hitting myself or banging my head against the wall or floor, I would talk in farsi (the language of Iran). I would push people away from me because I was afraid they were coming to rape me. This is a horrible mental disorder that is suffered by many people with trauma in their life. Veterans are also a big population that suffers from it.
How does PTSD develop?
Most people who go through a trauma have some symptoms at the beginning. Only some will develop PTSD over time. It isn’t clear why some people develop PTSD and others don’t.
Whether or not you get PTSD depends on many things:
- How intense the trauma was or how long it lasted
- If you were injured or lost someone important to you
- How close you were to the event
- How strong your reaction was
- How much you felt in control of events
- How much help and support you got after the event
What are the symptoms of PTSD?
PTSD symptoms usually start soon after the traumatic event, but they may not appear until months or years later. They also may come and go over many years. If the symptoms last longer than 4 weeks, cause you great distress, or interfere with your work or home life, you might have PTSD.
There are four types of symptoms of PTSD
- Reliving the event (also called re-experiencing symptoms)
You may have bad memories or nightmares. You even may feel like you’re going through the event again. This is called a flashback.
2. Avoiding situations that remind you of the event
You may try to avoid situations or people that trigger memories of the traumatic event. You may even avoid talking or thinking about the event.
3. Feeling numb
You may find it hard to express your feelings. Or, you may not be interested in activities you used to enjoy. This is another way to avoid memories.
4. Feeling keyed up (also called hyperarousal)
You may be jittery, or always alert and on the lookout for danger. This is known as hyperarousal.
I suffered from all of the above but at different times. My main symptoms or events were feeling keyed up, and feeling numb. Unlike the above I would purposely NOT avoid stressful situations because I thought I HAD TO GET ON WITH REAL LIFE, so if I avoided every stressful situation then I wouldn’t be able to function. This included watching TV shows like Law & Order SVU, which dealt with a lot of rapes and childhood sexual abuse *both of which I’ve suffered from. I can’t say these shows don’t affect me because they do at times, and I have to quit watching, but I think (my own opinion not professional) that if I keep dealing with life on it’s terms then it will all work out in the end.
Plus I have a WONDERFUL SUPPORTIVE MAN who has given and put up with so much of my downfalls and also the accomplishments that makes me blessed to have him in my life.
What other problems do people with PTSD experience?
People with PTSD may also have other problems. These include:
- Feelings of hopelessness, shame, or despair
- Depression or anxiety
- Drinking or drug problems
- Physical symptoms or chronic pain
- Employment problems
- Relationship problems, including divorce
In many cases, treatments for PTSD will also help these other problems, because they are often related. The coping skills you learn in treatment can work for PTSD and these related problems.
Needless to say I’ve suffered from all the above, but counseling and the right doctors can help you TREMENDOUSLY. Most of the above symptoms are now under control to a level that I can function in HIGH capacity. (Not HIGH to mean on drugs:))
What treatments are available?
When you have PTSD, dealing with the past can be hard. Instead of telling others how you feel, you may keep your feelings bottled up. But treatment can help you get better. There are two main types of treatment, psychotherapy (sometimes called counseling) and medication. Sometimes people combine psychotherapy and medication. I personally don’t advocate some of the treatments below, while I don’t believe medication should be a cure all either, I believe a MD, and a therapist who has a LOT of experience with PTSD patients are your best bet. But again these are my opinions.
Psychotherapy for PTSD
Psychotherapy, or counseling, involves meeting with a therapist. There are different types of psychotherapy:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most effective treatment for PTSD. There are different types of CBT. such as cognitive therapy and exposure therapy.
- One type is Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) where you learn skills to understand how trauma changed your thoughts and feelings.
- Another type is Prolonged Exposure (PE) therapy where you talk about your trauma repeatedly until memories are no longer upsetting. You also go to places that are safe, but that you have been staying away from because they are related to the trauma.
- A similar kind of therapy is called eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). This therapy involves focusing on sounds or hand movements while you talk about the trauma.
Medications for PTSD
Medications can be effective too. A type of drug known as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), which is also used for depression, is effective for PTSD. Another medication called Prazosin has been found to be helpful in decreasing nightmares related to the trauma.
IMPORTANT: Benzodiazepines and atypical antipsychotics should generally be avoided for PTSD treatment because they do not treat the core PTSD symptoms.
Where to Get Help for PTSD
Are you are in crisis? You have options:
- Call 911
- Go to the nearest Emergency Room
- Call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255
- Contact the Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255, press 1 (text 838255) or Confidential Veterans Chat with a counselor To have a private chat with a veterans counselor who has experience with PTSD go to the link below.
National Institute of Mental Health’s Anxiety HOTLINE 1-888-826-9438
Online support forum: http://www.findthelight.net/forum/login.asp
National Center for PTSD – The National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) conduct cutting edge research and apply resultant findings to: “Advance the Science and Promote Understanding of Traumatic Stress.” Fact sheets, videos, and more about trauma to help answer your questions about PTSD and related issues.
- National Resource Directory – The National Resource Directory (NRD) provides access to services and resources at the national, state and local levels that support recovery, rehabilitation and community reintegration. www.nationalresourcedirectory.gov
- The National Domestic Violence Hotline – The hotline is staffed 24 hours a day by trained counselors who can provide crisis assistance and information about shelters, legal advocacy, health care centers and counseling. There is also a toll-free number for the hearing impaired, 1-800-787-3224
- The National Sexual Assault Hotline – Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN)
1-800-656-HOPE This number will direct callers to a local rape crisis center
- National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Hotline
- SAMHSA – works to improve the quality and availability of substance abuse prevention, alcohol and drug addiction treatment, and mental health services.
I’ve tried not only to include the numbers and websites for help for PTSD but for those disorders that might be the ROOT cause of why we suffer from it. I only wish ALL of you well. I know how important it is to have resources and many people don’t know where to go or look for links or numbers so I hope that I’ve helped some of you out. If you need ANYTHING, please don’t hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and put PTSD in the subject line. I will help you in any way I can within my capabilities. GOD BLESS YOU ALL! Thanks for reading, Lori