Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Doesn't Just Affect Combat Soldiers
- Author Robin Akins
- Published December 4, 2023
- Word count 992
When you hear the term PTSD, otherwise known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, you may conjure up images of someone who is tormented by flashbacks of their time fighting in Iran or Afghanistan. While this most certainly is an example of PTSD, there are many different scenarios and people who can be impacted by PTSD. It does not only impact combat soldiers.
PTSD can occur in all people, of any culture, nationality, ethnicity, and at any age. In fact, it impacts around 3.5 percent of adults in the United States per year. It is also estimated that one in 11 people will be diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in their lifetime. And, you may also be surprised to learn that women are twice as likely as men to have PTSD.
What is PTSD?
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a psychiatric disorder that can happen in any person who has witnessed or encountered a traumatic event. Not only does this involve combat events, but other examples include the likes of serious injury, sexual violence, being threatened with death, rape, a terrorist act, a serious accident, or a natural disaster.
PTSD has been known by many names in former years, such as “combat fatigue” in WW2 and “shell shock” in WW1, which is one of the reasons why people assume it only happens to combat veterans. However, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can impact anyone.
Causes of PTSD
You can experience PTSD when going through any sort of stressful or traumatic event. However, doctors are yet to understand why some people get PTSD and others don’t. As is the case with most mental issues, PTSD is a complex mental state. It is typically a mix of the way your brain regulates chemicals, inherited personality features, inherited mental health risks, and stressful experiences.
The symptoms of PTSD
Those who suffer from PTSD will experience disturbing and intense feelings and thoughts relating to the experience they had, long after they had it. Some of the different symptoms that can be experienced are as follows:
Sufferers of PTSD may relive the event through nightmares or flashbacks that are out of their control. Flashbacks make you feel like the event is happening all over again. You could also have unwanted, recurrent, and distressing memories of the event.
You may also experience severe physical reactions or emotional distress to anything that reminds you of the event.
PTSD sufferers can also have issues sleeping, developing conditions like insomnia, and they may struggle to concentrate.
Changes in emotional and physical reactions
Symptoms of changes in emotional and physical reactions can include the following:
Overwhelming shame or guilt
Aggressive behavior, angry outburst, irritability
Self-destructive behavior, for example, driving too fast or drinking too much
Always being on guard for danger
Being in an easily frightened or startled mood
Negative changes in mood and thinking
A lot of people experience negative changes in terms of their outlook and mood. Examples include the following:
Feeling numb emotionally
Difficulty experiencing emotions that are positive
A lack of interest in activities you use to love
Feeling detached from friends and family
Struggling to maintain close relationships
Memory problems, including not being able to remember vital elements of the traumatic event
Hopelessness about the future
Having negative thoughts about others and yourself
These symptoms are persistent and severe to the extent that they have a considerable impact on a person’s daily life. One may feel anger, fear, or sadness. They may detach themselves from others.
Those suffering may try to avoid certain people, activities, or places that remind them of the traumatic event.
PTSD symptoms in children
For children under the age of 6-years-old, there are some other signs or symptoms that you may start to notice.
For example, they may have scary dreams, which may or may not incorporate elements of the traumatic incident. Moreover, you may find that they re-enact the traumatic event or elements of it through play.
Should you get medical advice for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?
If you have experienced a traumatic event, it is normal to feel confused and upset afterward. However, as time goes on, this should get better.
If something impacted you four weeks ago, and you’re still experiencing flashbacks and unpleasant thoughts, it is wise to see a medical professional.
Treatment for PTSD
A lot of people assume that there is no treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. However, this could not be further from the truth. PTSD can be treated successfully, even if you have developed it a lot of years after the traumatic event.
Any treatment that you receive will depend on how severe the symptoms are, and how soon they have occurred after the traumatic event.
After all, we are all different, and we all experience things in different ways. This is why it is critical that a medical professional finds out about the event you have experienced and your subsequent symptoms. They can then put together the best treatment plan for you.
Some of the different treatment options that may be recommended are as follows:
Psychological therapies - This includes the likes of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) and trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
Antidepressants - You may be given medication such as mirtazapine or paroxetine.
Watchful waiting - This involves monitoring your systems to discover whether they get better or worse without treatment.
Final words on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
We hope that this has helped you to better understand PTSD and the symptoms that are associated with it. A lot of people assume that they cannot possibly have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder because they have not been to war. However, war is just one of many triggers that can cause PTSD.
If you have noticed any of the signs or symptoms that we have discussed above, there is help available and there are techniques you can learn to help you cope with PTSD.
Robin Akins is the founder of Cogentica, LLC, a disability advocacy and information site founded in 2015. Dr. Akins is a quantitative psychologist with over 40 years of experience in business, government, and education with substantial teaching experience at the college level. He received his doctorate at Temple University in 1992.
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