What is PTSD?
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is classified by psychologists
as an "anxiety disorder." It can occur after a traumatic event in
which you think your or others' lives are in danger. During the
traumatic event, you may feel you don't have control over what is
happening, and can, naturally, feel extreme fear for your or others'
safety and/or survival. Events can include: combat, assault, sexual
abuse, physical abuse, natural disasters, and accidents. After the
event, you may feel confused, scared, or angry. If the feelings don't
go away, or get worse, you may have PTSD. These symptoms can disrupt
your life and make it hard to continue with daily activities.
About half of those who initially experience PTSD recover within a short period of time, often without treatment. About one out of three of people with initial symptoms of PTSD continue to have persistent symptoms. Treatment can help. PTSD doesn't have to interfere with your work, everyday activities, and relationships.
What are the symptoms of PTSD?
PTSD can disrupt your life, making it hard to continue with normal daily activities. PTSD symptoms generally start soon after the initial traumatic event, but may not start until many months or years. PTSD symptoms may come and go over time. If your first symptoms last longer than four weeks, or cause significant distress, or interfere with work or home life, you probably have PTSD.
The four types of PTSD symptoms include:
- Reliving the traumatic event (including nightmares)
- Avoidance of situations that remind you of the traumatic event
- Feeling numb or "dissociated"
- Feeling tense and/or keyed up (hyper-arousal)
Other problems frequently associated with PTSD:
- Drinking and other substance abuse problems.
- Feeling shame, hopelessness, or despair (depression)
- Employment difficulties.
- Relationships adjustment problems, including violence and divorce.
Who gets PTSD?
According to a study by RAND on the incidence and treatment of PTSD in the military, Army and Marines veterans are the most likely to have post-traumatic stress disorder, but exposure to combat trauma is the best predictor of PTSD. A very important finding was that, in addition to Army and Marine veterans, high rates of incidence of PTSD were found in service members who were no longer on active duty (including reserves and retired military). This confirms previous findings. Apart from those exposed to combat trauma, PTSD was not found affect any subgroup (gender, ethnicity, officer/enlisted) more that than any other. See other PTSD statistics.
What happens if PTSD is ignored and not treated?
First of all, if PTSD is not treated, you are going to miss out on a lot that life has to offer. Your family and friends will also suffer. According to the RAND study, untreated PTSD results in increased "drug use, suicide, marital problems and unemployment."
The Veterans and PTSD website
This site offers insights and tools to make recovery faster. Veterans report that they want a private, drug-free way of recovering from PTSD. They also feel that the support of their friends and family is an important part of their healing. This veterans and PTSD site gives:
- A detailed online introduction to the most effective form of self-help for PTSD: a specific type of relaxation-meditation that research shows is particularly effective in treating veterans with PTSD. It not only soothes the symptoms but permanently removes the agitated overload from the nervous system. You can only effectively learn this technique in person from a qualified instructor; but once learned, it can be done privately in your own home and your family can also participate.
- Clear, simple information on the main problems faced by veterans with PTSD: depression, drug abuse and increased suicide risk.
- Soon to be added: a detailed PTSD resource site that includes a complete and sophisticated treatment protocol being researched for veterans who think they may have PTSD.