Are you Suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a type of anxiety disorder that is caused by a traumatic event that happened in the past. If something occurred that caused you intense fear, made you feel extremely hopeless and when you just could not forget the horror that took place, you have the “ingredients” of PTSD. It is undoubtedly correct to think of PTSD as a psychological injury that brings about a number of neurological, emotional and psychological changes.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, there are about 7.7 million Americans who are suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Most of them are 18 years old and above although the median is approximately 23 years old. A percentage of those comprising these statistics are war veterans of recent combats from the Vietnam war through to the current ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. Studies show that 19 percent of the soldiers who were deployed in Vietnam suffered from PTSD at some time after they have been called back home.
The manifestations of the severe trauma are grouped into 3 categories – (i) intrusive memories, (ii) avoidance of people and the numbing of emotions, and (iii) emotional arousal or hyper-arousal. More often than not, these symptoms show up 3 months after the traumatic event. There are instances though wherein it takes years for these symptoms to manifest themselves.
The symptom of intrusive memory includes flashbacks of the traumatic event while you are awake. For a minute or even for days, you seem to be reliving the horrors that you encountered and you find it incredibly difficult to snap out of it. If you are able to control these memories when you are awake, sometimes they haunt you in your dreams. Your subconscious does not have the barriers that your conscious mind has and so you might get nightmares frequently.
Avoidance and emotional numbing are marked by a social disconnect – even with the people that you care about. You don’t talk as much, especially if the topic is related to the traumatic event that you experienced. You feel nothing but gloom and doom for the future. You even experience memory loss and difficulty in concentrating and staying focused. You allow your close relationships to disintegrate because you are afraid to get close to people.
The last symptom is feeling increasingly anxious and overly emotional. You get easily angered and irritated. Sometimes you are plagued by guilt or by shame. Sometimes, people just do things to block out the event from their mind and so they drink excessively. They tend to be startled and even frightened of the littlest thing. Their mind can even play tricks on them, making them hear or see things that were never there.
If you think that you are suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, there are a number of different treatments available to help to get you through the difficult time, a discussion with a trained and suitably qualified mental health professional is the most important first step.
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