Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a situation that develops in some people who have experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous event. Most people recover from initial symptoms naturally. Those who continue to experience problems may be diagnosed with PTSD. They may feel stressed or frightened even when they are not in danger.
Symptoms usually begin early within three (3) months of the traumatic incident, but sometimes they begin years afterward. Symptoms must last more than one (1) month and be severe enough to interfere with relationships or work to be considered PTSD. Some individuals recover within six (6) months while others have symptoms that last much longer. In some people, the condition becomes chronic.
A doctor can diagnose PTSD for an adult if they have symptoms lasting for at least one(1) month. Flashbacks or reliving the trauma over and over, physical symptoms like a racing heart or sweating, bad dreams, and frightening thoughts are some of the symptoms. Words or situations that are reminders of the event can also trigger re-experiencing symptoms. These are called “arousal symptoms” that occur on a constant basis. A person who experiences these symptoms can be easily startled, feel tense or “on edge”, have difficulty sleeping, or have angry outbursts. These occurrences would make it difficult for an individual to do daily tasks; such as, sleeping, eating, or concentrating.
The above pictures show memory reduction and emotional activation increase in the brain of a person with PTSD
Cognition or understanding what occurred, and also mood symptoms, can begin or worsen after the traumatic event. Trouble remembering key features of the traumatic event, negative thoughts about oneself or the world, distorted feelings like guilt or blame, and loss of interest in enjoyable activities that were once enjoyed are some of the symptoms. The symptoms can make the person feel alienated or detached from friends or family members.
It is natural to have “some” of these symptoms after a dangerous event, but it may not be determined PTSD. Sometimes people have very serious symptoms that go away after a few weeks. This is called “Acute Stress Disorder” or ASD. When the symptoms last more than a month, seriously affect one’s ability to function, and are not due to substance abuse, medical illness, or anything except the event itself, that person may be experiencing PTSD.
For additional information, see: www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders/index.shtml)
Some risk factors for developing this disorder are feeling horror, helplessness, or extreme fear, and/or having little or no social support after the event. Another risk factor is dealing with extra stress after the event such as the loss of a loved one and/or pain and injury. Substance abuse is also a risk factor. Some reduction of risk factors include seeking support from other people such as friends and family, finding a support group, learning to feel good about one’s own actions in the face of danger, and having a positive coping strategy and learning from it.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt coined the phrase “fireside chat”. The main treatments for PTSD are medications, talk therapy and/or fireside chats, or both. Talk therapy (sometimes called psychotherapy) involves talking with a health professional or talking about the situation with a group of same people, or both. Research also shows that support from family and friends can be an important part of recovery.
Talk therapies and/or fireside chats teach people helpful ways to react to the frightening events that trigger PTSD symptoms. This structure may be taking place by groups such as “The Sierra Club” at different weekend retreats. They teach about trauma and its effects, use of relaxation and anger-control skills, provide tips for better sleep, diet, and exercise habits, assist the Wounded Warrior to identify and deal with guilt, shame, and other feelings about the event. The focus is on changing the viewpoints on how people react to their PTSD symptoms. In other words, therapy helps people face reminders of the trauma.
Cognitive therapy, or how to acquire knowledge, understanding, and reasoning about the event, has proven to be helpful. It helps people to face and control their fear (in a safe way) by gradually exposing them to the trauma. It restructures the bad memories because sometimes people remember the event differently than how it actually occurred. The Wounded Warrior need not feel guilt or shame about the event being their fault and look at the situation in a more positive way.
Other types of treatment that would work well in these situations are Meditation and Music Therapy. The treatment also should be able to assist them to participate in activities that they enjoyed before developing PTSD. The body naturally produces healing properties if a person put their Mind into it through Meditation. There are many Meditation groups throughout the World and can be found on the internet. Music Therapy, such as listening to Mosart or other relaxing music, has been known to be very helpful.
It may take some time with treatment therapies, but a person can get better. If the family doctor cannot assist a person with where to find these therapies, other than “The Sierra Club”, check out NIMH’s Help for Mental Illnesses page @ www.nimh.nih.gov/health/find-help/index.shtml). Set realistic goals, engage in mild physical activities or exercise to reduce stress and spend time with other people and/or confide in a trusted friend or relative. Expect symptoms to improve gradually and not immediately.
As long as uncomfortable destructive conditions of a person’s past are not balanced, a person lives in an unbalanced state of being….never completely comfortable or at peace. If an individual removes or erases the barriers and resistances that cause this uncomfortability by forgiving the situation, they are free through Love to raise the vibration of electromagnetic energy to a higher level of their awareness; therefore, they may live in a more comfortable state of being. The individual can at least escape the discord in their own individual life or nature. Objectives or aims and purpose determine outcomes. A person’s own intentions are revealed by their actions, and actions are determined by true intentions.
FORGIVENESS IS THE ABILITY TO “GIVE FOR” THE SITUATION; THAT IS, GIVE LOVE.
HEAL A BROKEN SPIRIT THROUGH THE MIND WHICH IS SPIRIT! LEARN TO MEDITATE OR RENEW MEDITATION TECHNIQUES!
Until next month.