Invisible Wounds: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder


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What is PTSD?

Post traumatic stress disorder is a mental health condition triggered by a traumatic event. It can include symptoms such as nightmares, extreme anxiety and flashbacks.

Other names for PTSD (throughout history)
● Nostalgia
● Estar Roto – Spanish for “to be broken”
● Soldier’s Heart

What can cause PTSD:
● Combat exposure
● Childhood sexual or physical abuse
● Natural disasters (fire, flood, hurricane, tornado, earthquake)
● Sexual or physical assault
● Serious accidents (car wreck, plane crash)
● Terrorist attack

Whether or not you get PTSD depends on a few factors:
● Intensity of the trauma
● Length of the trauma
● Degree of personal injury
● Proximity to event
● Individual control of the events
● Amount of help and support obtained after the trauma

After going through a trauma, most people will show some symptoms of PTSD at first. Only some develop PTSD over time.
● It is unknown why some people develop PTSD while others do not

There are 4 types of PTSD symptoms:

● Reliving the event
○ Bad memories or nightmares
○ Feeling like you’re going through the trauma all over again
○ Flashbacks

● Avoiding situations that remind you of the event
○ Avoiding situations or people that trigger memories of the trauma
○ Avoiding talking or thinking about the trauma

● Negative changes in beliefs and feelings
○ A change in the way you think about yourself or others
○ Feelings of fear, guilt or shame
○ Loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy

● Hyperarousal
○ Being jittery or always alert
○ Always on the lookout for danger
○ Trouble sleeping or concentrating

People with PTSD may also suffer from other problems:

● Feelings of hopelessness, shame, or despair
● Depression or anxiety
● Drinking or drug problems
● Chronic pain
● Employment problems
● Relationship problems

How many people are living with PTSD?

● It is estimated that 7.8% of Americans will experience PTSD at some point in their lives
○ 10.4% of women
○ 5% of men
● About 3.6% of US adults (18-54) [5.2 million people] have PTSD during the course of one year
● 60.7% of men and 51.2% of women have reported at least one traumatic event in their lives
● The Department of Veterans Affairs reports that since 9/11, 30% of treated veterans coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan have been diagnosed with PTSD
○ Less than 40% seek help

In June 2012, the number of suicides among active duty soldiers surpassed the number of combat deaths for the year.
● 154 suicides; 124 combat deaths in Afghanistan
○ That’s a rate of one suicide almost every day

● PTSD is treated with psychotherapy and medication
○ Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
■ Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) – Patient learns skills to understand how trauma has changed his or her thoughts and feelings
■ Prolonged Exposure therapy (PE) – Patient talks about his or her trauma repeatedly until the memories are no longer upsetting
● Patient also goes to places that are safe, but that they have been avoiding because they are related to the trauma
○ Medication
■ An antidepressant known as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) is effective for PTSD
■ The medication Prazosin has been found to be helpful in decreasing nightmares

Recognize the signs of PTSD
● National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
● Veterans Crisis Line 1-800-273-TALK (8255), PRESS 1