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Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Most people associate Post Traumatic Stress Disorder  (PTSD) with battle-scarred soldiers. Indeed, military combat is the most common cause in men. But any overwhelming life experience – assault, accident, natural or man-made disaster  –  can trigger PTSD, especially if the event feels unpredictable and uncontrollable. PTSD can affect those who have personally experienced a catastrophe, those who witnessed it, and those who pick up the pieces afterwards, including emergency workers, law enforcement officers, and other First Responders. It can even occur in  friends or family members of those who have gone through the actual trauma.

PTSD can leave a person feeling on edge, in constant fear, and hopeless about life. There is a sense of impending danger, a feeling of being unable to move on and painful memories that don’t go away. Sometimes symptoms appear without discernible causes. At other times, symptoms are triggered by a noise, an image, certain words, or a smell, that reminds the person of the original traumatic event.

Everyone will have stress reactions after a trauma; it’s normal to have difficulties after a tragedy. But sometimes the trauma is so significant that one finds they just can’t move on. When you are unable to recover, you may be suffering from PTSD, now a recognized medical diagnosis.


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Symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder include:

  1. History or experience of a trauma or life-threatening event
  2. Recurrent thoughts about the trauma
  3. Nightmares related to the trauma
  4. Flashbacks
  5. Being triggered by reminders of the trauma
  6. Being triggered by anything associated with the trauma
  7. Avoiding thoughts, feelings, places, related to the trauma
  8. Not remembering parts or all of the trauma
  9. Feeling numb or having a diminished interest in life
  10. Trouble sleeping
  11. Difficulty with concentration
  12. Being  easily startled
  13. Hyper-vigilance; anxious awareness of surroundings
  14. Irritability or outbursts of anger
  15. Acting out the trauma during play (children)

If you suspect PTSD in yourself or a loved-one, it’s important to seek help right away. The sooner PTSD is confronted, the easier it is to overcome. If you’re reluctant to seek help, keep in mind that PTSD is not a sign of weakness, that the only way to overcome it is to confront the event and learn to accept it as a part of your past. It’s only natural to want to avoid painful memories and feelings. But when we try to numb ourselves, PTSD only gets worse and avoidance ultimately harms our relationships, our ability to function, and our quality of life.

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