On Monday, I’ll Meet You There author Heather Demetrios guest blogged about PTSD, how it’s affected her life, and how it is featured throughout her novel. Today, we wanted to take a little time to explain what PTSD is, and how you can help — or get help — if you or someone you know is suffering from it.
What is PTSD
when a group of symptoms, such as disturbing recurring flashbacks, avoidance or numbing of memories of the event, and hyperarousal, continue for more than a month after the occurrence of a traumatic event. (Source)
- 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
Though stress following some sort of trauma is considered common, not everyone suffers from PTSD. As noted above, PTSD is usually diagnosed when these symptoms don’t go away after a reasonable amount of time and disrupt every day life.
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the symptoms of PTSD most commonly include:
- 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.
- 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.
- Negative changes in beliefs and feelings
The way you think about yourself and others may change because of the trauma. You may feel fear, guilt, or shame. Or, you may not be interested in activities you used to enjoy. This is another way to avoid memories.
- Feeling keyed up (also called hyperarousal)
You may be jittery, or always alert and on the lookout for danger. Or, you may have trouble concentrating or sleeping. This is known as hyperarousal.
Other problems can also arise from PTSD, including (but not limited to):
- Feelings of hopelessness, shame, or despair
- Depression or anxiety
- Drinking or drug problems
- Physical symptoms or chronic pain
- Employment problems
- Relationship problems, including divorce
Most common treatments for PTSD are usually counseling, medication, or some combination of both — but this varies patient to patient. So if you or someone you know may be suffering from PTSD, it’s important to seek professional medical help.
The USDVA has a good site where you can learn more about PTSD, the symptoms of PTSD, and resources for getting help.
Resources for Help with PTSD
- National Center for PTSD (Part of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs; they feature an abundance of resources & information.)
- Military with PTSD (A nonprofit designed to help families connect, when one or more members is suffering from PTSD.)
- Confidential Veterans Chat, or call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255
- Give An Hour (A nonprofit offering free mental health care to U.S. military personnel & their family members affected by combat in Iraq and Afghanistan)
- Military Kids Connect (Support for military kids ages 6-17, before, during & after a parent’s deployment.) There is also an online workbook for teens whose parents may be suffering from PTSD.
- Wounded Warrior Project (Helps raise awareness & aid for service members who are injured, or suffering from mental illness, such as PTSD.)