Post-traumatic stress is a condition that one may develop after a life threatening experience such as natural disasters, terrorist attacks, serious accidents, physical or sexual abuse and combat. Most people who experience these types of events return to normal after a certain amount of time. They heal and move on; however, a small number of people develop stress reactions that do not go away on their own. Many people feel that they should not feel this way; they feel weak for not being able to deal with their trauma. Many people may not even realize they have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
It is even harder for military personnel at times because they have been trained to deal with these things, and many feel there will be a stigma attached to them if they come forward. In addition, PTSD will often cause or contribute to other conditions and symptoms such as depression, substance abuse and loss of memory or mental acuity. It is important to note that having PTSD is not something to be ashamed of. It is a condition that needs treatment, just like other health issues. If you have thoughts such as, “I feel like I have post-traumatic stress, who do I talk to? What are some resources if I feel I can’t handle it?” you are not alone. Thousands of people feel this way every single day, and many are being successfully treated for their condition.
There are roughly three symptoms of PTSD that one should be aware of, especially if you think you or someone you love may be affected.
- Reliving: One significant symptom is reliving the incident(s) that have caused the PTSD. Because the event is never placed in the past there is no healing time to be had. The person affected by PTSD cannot move forward if the event continually is being relived in the mind.
- Isolation: Many with PTSD feel isolated and in fact will isolate themselves from family and friends. They feel they are safer alone or they just can’t deal with the stress of the PTSD and socializing with others.
- Preparedness: PTSD sufferers may feel a constant desire for preparedness. They are always on the lookout for danger and trying to protect themselves from another traumatic event. They never feel safe. People with PTSD may seem over prepared for an emergency or may just have a knee jerk reaction to even the hint of danger (often when there is no actual danger).
What can you do?
What can you do if you feel like you or a loved one may be suffering from PTSD? There are many resources for assistance. Talking with your doctor, of course, is an important step. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs also has an in-depth website where you can go for information and assistance. The web address is: http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/index.asp and is named PTSD: National Center for PTSD. If you have ever asked, “I feel like I have post-traumatic stress, who do I talk to? What are some resources if I feel I can’t handle it?” this website is a very good starting point to seek help.