Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

4/15/2004

The continuing threat of terrorism in America, the circumstances of our Armed Forces at war in Iraq, the concerns of their families and the experiences of those who are returning from combat can all contribute to post traumatic stress disorder. Any highly traumatic event that we experience can cause us to experience unusually strong emotional reactions that interfere with our ability to function in daily life. Sometimes the stress reactions appear immediately. Sometimes they appear a few hours or a few days later. In some individuals, weeks or months may pass before the stress reactions appear. 

Some common symptoms of post traumatic stress are: 

  • Recurrent and distressing thoughts of the event(s). 
     
  • A sense of reliving the experience(s) through vivid memories or flash backs. 
     
  • Having difficulty sleeping, sleeping too much or experiencing nightmares. 
     
  • Feelings of detachment or “distance” from others. 
     
  • Anxiety, depression, uncertainty and a sense of doom about the future. 
     
  • Feeling “emotionally numb” and overwhelmed by everyday situations. 
     
  • Diminished interest in performing normal tasks or pursuing usual interests. 
     
  • Relying increasingly on alcohol or other drugs to get through the day. 
     
  • Feeling guilty about surviving or about not being able to prevent the disaster(s). 
     
  • Disorganization, despair, confusion, a sense of chaos and loss of control.

We all respond to traumatic experiences in our own unique way. Everyone will move at his or her own pace through the stages of crisis and healing. There is no accurate predetermined length of time for recovering. For some people, there may be ongoing problems. 

To counter the traumatic circumstances of life, take care of yourself. Losing sleep, not eating and worrying too much can cause you to become rundown, on edge and irritable. As much as possible, try to get enough rest, eat right, keep a normal routine and allow yourself to get away from it all from time to time. And, be sure to avoid using alcohol and other forms of drugs to handle your emotions unless they have been prescribed by a licensed physician. 

The traumatic events that we experience are sometimes so painful or difficult to manage that professional assistance from a counselor may be necessary. This does not imply weakness. It simply indicates that your circumstance are just too powerful to manage alone. If we can be of assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us.