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6 Symptoms that might identify a possible PTSD

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Curious fact: Did you know that in the United States, 6 out of every 100 citizens have PTSD?

Throughout our lives, we face traumatic events and experiences. Many people recover from this and go on with their lives as if nothing had happened; but some others develop a mental disorder known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?

PTSD is a mental disorder that develops after experiencing traumatic situations that have a high impact on a person that persists for more than a month. Among the situations that could trigger it we can find the following:

  • Any kind of abuse
  • Child abuse
  • Car accidents
  • Natural disasters
  • Wars or Military Experiences
  • Terrorist attacks
  • Mass shootings
  • Any potentially lethal event

 

This term was adopted after the Vietnam War (1955-1975), when many American veterans began to develop symptoms of “shell shock”, or war neurosis, however, this was initially seen as a sign of weakness. It was until the 80’s, that thanks to the diagnosis of many soldiers, it began to be taken seriously and was renamed PTSD.

Who can have PTSD? 

Who can have PTSD?

It is important to remember that PTSD may also affect people who have witnessed one of the situations mentioned above, who may suffer from PTSD without having experienced the traumatic event directly. For example:

  • People who witnessed the traumatic event that happened to other people.
  • People whose family or friends have experienced a traumatic event
  • People exposed to details of traumatic events, such as doctors, emergency responders, etc.
Military helmet
Lateral brain

A brain with PTSD

When someone suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder after a traumatic experience, their brain changes. The amygdala, the part of the brain responsible for fear, becomes particularly active, which makes people remain stuck “danger mode” permanently

Post-traumatic stress disorder also causes the hippocampus to shrink. Memory is controlled by the hippocampus, so you may start having trouble remembering things if you do not treat PTSD.

What are the symptoms of PTSD?

While everyone’s experience with PTSD is different, there are six main symptoms that can help identify when someone has developed PTSD:

  1. Reliving the event: You could “re-live” a traumatic event by involuntarily having flashbacks, remembering it vividly or having nightmares about it. This can also be caused by things that remind you of the event: for example, watching news of a natural disaster could make someone who survived an earthquake have a hard time.
  2. Avoiding things that remind you of the event: People with PTSD often avoid any situation that might be related to the traumatic event they experienced. For example, a person who was present during a shooting in a public space might avoid going there afterwards.
  3. Negative behavior: After a traumatic experience, many people may reveal a disorder by feeling sad, losing interest in things they used to like, and having trouble demonstrating positive emotions.
  4. Shame or guilt: Often many people also feel responsible for what they went through or feel guilty because they think they could have prevented it. Similarly, they may present something known as survivor’s guilt, which is feeling guilt for surviving something when others didn’t.
  5. Self-destructive or unhealthy behaviors: A red flag could be people acting without regards for their health, drinking too much alcohol, doing drugs, driving carelessly, or self-harming.
  6. Feeling nervous all the time: Another common behavior of a person with PTSD is having trouble relaxing, resulting in anxiety, difficulty sleeping or concentrating, feeling that you are in constant danger, or being scared very easily.

Identifying yourself with the above list may mean you have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, however, only a professional can diagnose you with this mental disorder. If you suspect you may have it, contact a psychiatrist who will be able to follow up on you.

How does PTSD affect people who have it?

Unfortunately, this is a disorder that can affect several aspects of a person’s daily life, which goes hand in hand with the behaviors people with PTSD adopt.

  • Having this disorder may result in other types of mental illnesses, such as depression and anxiety
  • Commonly, many people with PTSD will use substances that are harmful to their health, and when alcohol or drug abuse occurs, physical health is at risk.
  • Because of the symptoms they have, people with PTSD may see their personal relationships affected.
  • Performance at school or at work of someone with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder may be affected
Student and exam

Treatment

Although Post Traumatic Stress Disorder has no cure, there is a way to reduce its symptoms, and the treatment for it seeks to help the patient regain a sense of control over their emotions and, consequently, their lives.

The first step is to identify that you need help. Unfortunately, many times people think that the symptoms of PTSD will go away over time, when the truth is that they might worsen if untreated.

The most common way to treat PTSD is through Trauma-Focused Psychotherapy. During the sessions, the patient will explore the meaning of their trauma and the feelings it causes. A very common practice is Prolonged Exposure Therapy, which can be frightening for many, because it involves facing all the things that remind the patient of the traumatic experience they had.

You may also need to take medication, because PTSD often reflects a lack of certain chemicals that make your brain work properly, such as serotonin, hormone in charge of happiness; or norepinephrine, a stress-responsive neurotransmitter.

Woman doing yoga

Complementary Therapies

Treating any mental disorder can be very difficult and exhaustive for the patient, which is why many choose to take complementary therapies, which, as the name suggests, accompany conventional treatment.

One of them, very common among PTSD patients, are support groups, where people who have had similar experiences share the everyday problems they face, which will help the patient realize that they are not alone.

Another very effective complementary therapy is yoga. This practice has proven to be effective in reducing the symptoms of PTSD, as yoga teaches people to deal with their feelings and inner situations in a healthy way through postures, breathing exercises, and meditation. Similarly, it has been proven that yoga helps reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, which will have a positive impact on a patient with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

How can I support a family member o loved one who has PTSD?  

A mental disorder can be tough not only for the people who have it, but also for their loved ones. The best thing we can do is to support them, however, this will in no way replace conventional treatment. Here are some actions you can take:

  •         Educate yourself about PTSD so you can understand what your loved one is going through
  •        Understand that PTSD causes those suffering from it to withdraw and avoid talking about the subject; this is normal and nothing personal.
  •         Listen to your loved one, but never force them to talk about their PTSD.
  •        Help and encourage your loved one to hang out with friends and family
  •     Prioritize your own mental health and don’t let the situation affect you more than it needs to. If you need to, make sure to get psychological help.
  •         If you live with your loved one, stay safe in case they get violent.

Real Story

Maddy Wilford is a student who was present during the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas Highschool, where a man shot and killed 17 people, injuring 17 others, including Maddy.

After the shooting, Maddy began to develop symptoms similar to those caused by PTSD:

  • She had constant flashbacks where she relived that situation and remembered everything very vividly; especially the fear she felt.
  • She also lost motivation and lowered her performance at school, as she didn’t feel like doing anything.
  • She felt stagnant. As much as she wanted to get on with her life, she felt she couldn’t move on.

Fortunately, both her and her family initiated therapy to overcome the trauma, and in addition, Maddy got an emotional support dog.

Although she still has a long way to go, Maddy has started to improve, and has gotten a job as coach of a basketball team. Likewise, she has regained her motivation for the things she used to enjoy, and now she has a position as an intern at a hospital.

Basketball ball and whistle

Health insurance

It is well known that taking care of our mental health is as important as taking care of the body. Therefore, in BYBS we want to help you have a healthy mind and live your life to the fullest. Take care of your mind and body while we look after your integrity, finding and building coverages that best suit you.

For more information visit our website, where you will find the different coverages we offer. We have guaranteed approval coverage, which allows you to enroll regardless of your health status, or for those who do not qualify for public health insurance. (healthcare.gov) #CallBlanca(202) 316-4503

Conclusion

In conclusion, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a mental disorder that affects approximately 8 million U.S. citizens a year, a number that, unfortunately, can only increase because of the violence experienced on a daily basis.

The good news is that it is a condition that can be treated with psychotherapy, medication, and that can also be accompanied by complementary therapies that have proven to be effective, such as yoga.

If you suspect you may be dealing with this mental disorder, don’t hesitate to ask for help; even though it is a disorder without a cure, you can reduce its impact in time.

Similarly, because of the recent shootings that have taken place in supermarkets, churches, schools, among others; where people have experienced traumatic events, many of these people may end up with this disorder, but they are not alone in this.

Hotlines:

  • Veteran Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255 and press 1
  • PTSD Veteran Crisis Line (877) 717-PTSD (7873)

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