Things Everyone Should Know About Ptsd
Most of us are exposed to trauma at some point in our lives. This may mean surviving or witnessing a life-threatening event such as a car accident or fire, or ongoing traumatic circumstances like domestic violence. After going through trauma, its normal to have a range of reactions such as stress, sleep problems, or difficulty concentrating. But for some, the symptoms persist, leading to a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.
For many people, the term PTSD evokes images of extreme danger such as military combat or a mass shooting. While survivors of events like these sometimes experience post-traumatic stress disorder, in reality, PTSD could potentially affect anyone who has been exposed to significant trauma.
In honor of PTSD Awareness Month, were breaking down six key things you should know about the disorder to help you separate fact from fiction.
Are There Any Effective Treatments For Posttraumatic Nightmares
Nightmare symptoms often get better with standard Treatment Basics. If nightmares persist, there are treatments that can reduce how often they occur.
One treatment is Imagery Rehearsal Therapy . In IRT, the person who is having nightmares, while awake, changes how the nightmare ends so that it no longer upsets them. Then the person replays over and over in their minds the new dream with the non-scary ending. Research shows that this type of treatment can reduce how often nightmares occur.
Also, treatment for breathing problems that occur during sleep may reduce the nightmares that follow trauma. High levels of sleep-disordered breathing have been seen in trauma survivors. In one study, patients given a treatment to improve their breathing during sleep no longer had violent, scary dreams.
Little research exists on the use of medicines to treat nightmares from trauma. The medicine with the most promise is prazosin. Two studies have found that prazosin reduces nightmare symptoms. More research on prazosin is under way.
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Can Ptsd Treatment Help
A person can benefit from cognitive behavioral treatments for PTSD if suicidal thoughts are able to be managed on an outpatient basis. For example, a study of female rape survivors who received such treatment found that as PTSD symptoms decreased during treatment, suicidal thoughts also became less common. This effect lasted for 5-10 years after treatment ended. More research is needed, but having a good relationship with a mental health provider can help persons with PTSD make the best treatment decisions.
Given the link between PTSD and suicidal thoughts/behaviors, if you have PTSD and are involved in mental health treatment, your suicide risk will likely be regularly assessed. If the provider learns that immediate risk for suicide is high based on his/her assessment, they will make appropriate treatment decisions to ensure safety. If the immediate risk for suicide is not high and suicide risk can be managed safely on an outpatient basis, the provider may suggest treatment for PTSD.
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What This Tells Us About Ptsd And Suicide
This study reinforces the urgency of addressing suicidal thoughts in people with PTSD and C-PTSD. It also shows how vital early intervention is in tackling PTSD symptoms and offering robust therapies that achieve sustainable recovery.
Left undiagnosed, untreated or insufficiently supported, PTSD linked depression, despair, isolation and guilt can escalate all too quickly, leaving individuals with the conviction that death is their only escape.
Also, new focus needs to be placed on the support provided to those who survive suicide attempts. Research into PTSD and suicide has shown that 15% of people who survive, eventually complete the act. That number needs to be drastically reduced.
What If Your Symptoms Are Consistent With More Than One Ptsd Rating
Since PTSD is a complex condition and many of the symptoms within the rating criteria overlap, you may not fall completely into one percentage category.; For example, you may experience mild memory loss in addition to impaired judgment and flattened affect, meaning your symptoms are consistent with both a 30 percent and a 50 percent rating on the PTSD rating scale.
Since it is not possible to split the difference between the two ratings, VA must choose one to award.; In these cases, VA should award the higher rating based on 38 CFR § 4.7.; Specifically, when there is a question as to which of two evaluations should be applied, the higher evaluation will be assigned if the disability more clearly meets the criteria required for that rating.
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War And Emotional Trauma
Although PTSD can arise after a variety of traumatic events, war trauma made a substantial contribution to the current conceptualization of PTSD. While the terminology for PTSD only appeared in the psychiatricclassification system in 1980, knowledge of battle-related psychological problems goes back to antiquity. Mythical Greek heroes Ajax and Hercules both succumbed to their emotional wounds, not injuries of combat. In 1688, Swiss physician Johannes Hoferwrote about an unusual grouping of symptoms in Swiss mercenaries fighting in France or Italy, which he termed nostalgia. Irritable heart, also called soldiers heart or Da Costas syndrome, was described in soldiersof the American Civil War by Jacob Mendes Da Costa, an American physician.The syndrome, a forerunner of PTSD, included unexplained cardiac symptoms, such as palpitations,chest pain and shortness of breath .
When To Seek Help For Ptsd
A person who has experienced a traumatic event should seek professional help if they:
- dont feel any better after two weeks
- feel highly anxious or distressed
- have reactions to the traumatic event that are interfering with home, work and/or relationships
- are thinking of harming themselves or someone else.
Some of the signs that a problem may be developing are:
- being constantly on edge or irritable
- having difficulty performing tasks at home or at work
- being unable to respond emotionally to others
- being unusually busy to avoid issues
- using alcohol, drugs or gambling to cope
- having severe sleeping difficulties.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Complex Ptsd
People with complex PTSD tend to experience the core symptoms of PTSD as well as disturbances in their thoughts, behaviours and emotions including:
- difficulties expressing emotions it is common for someone to lose control of their emotions, such as in explosive anger or persistent sadness
- negative self-belief a person can view themselves in a negative light, and they may feel helpless, guilty, or ashamed
- problems maintaining healthy relationships due to lack of trust in some cases people avoid relationships completely, while others can develop unhealthy relationships
- ongoing feelings of emptiness
Learn About Organizations That Help Veterans
Luckily, no one needs to be alone in this fight. There are plenty of organizations out there that are devoted to helping both veterans and their loved ones to work through the obstacles that PTSD and related conditions can create. If you dont personally know a veteran with PTSD, you can help by donating to one of these organizations. If you do know a veteran, its worth admitting to yourself that it may be your responsibility to bring this person to the attention of an organization that can offer help. For individuals with PTSD, thought patterns are affected. Its not like having a high fever for a few days and then realizing that the next logical step is to call your doctor. Many veterans with PTSD do not think about seeking assistance and may need your encouragement.
However, help is out there. SAFE and REBOOT are two organizations that provide essential resources to help veterans lead healthy and happy lives once again. These organizations aim to help veterans who are struggling to adjust to life back home.
Get in touch with them if you need their services, or get involved even if you dont. Doing so is a great way to show our veterans that they have your support. Thats something we should all strive to do.
Originally published at on October 24, 2017.
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Why Do Veterans Suffer From Ptsd
People Also Asked, What percentage of veterans suffer from ptsd?
Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom: Between 11 and 20 percent of veterans. Vietnam War: Studies suggest about 15 percent of veterans, yet its estimated that about 30 percent have had PTSD in their lifetime.
Also know, how do veterans cope with PTSD? Some of those coping mechanisms are outlined below: Lifestyle changes Interacting with other trauma survivors and other veterans who have experience with PTSD, exercising, eating healthy, volunteering, avoiding drugs and alcohol, spend more time with loved ones and practicing optimism are all helpful.
Numerous Risk Factors Are Possible
Experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event is the primary risk factor for developing PTSD at some point in your life. The more risk factors you have, the higher your likelihood of experiencing PTSD.
People who have lived through or witnessed traumatic events may be at risk for PTSD. These can include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Combat or other warlike events
- Sexual assault
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, some additional PTSD risk factors include:
- A lack of social support following the trauma
- Added stress after a traumatic event such as pain or injury
- Pre-existing mental health problems or substance abuse
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Avoidance And Emotional Numbing
Trying to avoid being;reminded of the traumatic event;is another;key symptom of PTSD.
This usually;means avoiding certain people or places that remind you of the trauma, or avoiding talking to anyone about your experience.
Many people with;PTSD try to push memories of the event out of their mind, often distracting themselves with work or hobbies.
Some people attempt to deal with their feelings by trying not to feel anything at all. This is known as emotional numbing.
This can lead to the person becoming isolated and withdrawn, and they may also give up pursuing activities they used to enjoy.
Brain Chemistry And Ptsd
PTSD is all about brain chemistry and what happens to the brain during and immediately after the critical, traumatic incident. Essentially, the chemicals that flood the brain during the trauma do so in order to help the person to survive the event, either by running away, or fighting furiously. A third option, to submit to the trauma also has brain chemistry implications. In some individuals, once the brain goes through this chemical rewiring to survive the trauma, the wiring stays that way.
When a person has experienced a traumatic event, and depending on their unique brain chemistry, they may or may not have after effects of PTSD symptoms and behavioral signs. This means that two people can experience the same trauma, and one may come out with PTSD, and the other will not. Science may be getting close to predicting who may and who may not develop symptoms, since recent research and study in this area is gaining more information on just how the brain and brain chemicals are involved, and how the process that creates symptoms works.
The good news is that research on how PTSD works in the brain is moving forward, there is hope that the rewired bio-chemical system can be rewired one more time through therapy to help people regain the life they had before their traumatic event.
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Do Veterans Need To Have All Of The Symptoms Listed To Receive A Ptsd Rating
As mentioned above, the General Rating Formula for Mental Disorders includes a large number of symptoms for each disability rating.; Importantly, a veteran does not need to exhibit every symptom named in the PTSD rating scale in order to qualify for a specific rating.; For example, a veteran who only experiences suicidal ideation and near-continuous panic or depression still falls under the 70 percent PTSD disability rating according to VA law.
Specifically, the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims case, Mauerhan v. Principi, established that the symptoms listed in Diagnostic Code 9411 are not intended to constitute an exhaustive list, but rather serve as examples of the type and degree of symptoms, or their effects, that would justify a particular rating.; Therefore, a veteran can have any number of the symptoms listed in the rating criteria and still meet that level of evaluation.
How Do I Recognize Ptsd In Myself Or Others
With any traumatic event, it is completely normal to feel impacted. However, PTSD symptoms may interfere with the persons ability to function in their normal settings or environment.
While there are many symptoms of PTSD, they are often dismissed as something other than post-traumatic stress disorder. If symptoms escalate over time, interfere with the ability to go about day-to-day activities, or dont diminish with time, it may be worth talking to someone about the possibility of a PTSD diagnosis.
When considering if you or a loved one are living with PTSD, its important to remember that the onset of symptoms can show at any time, not just immediately after experiencing trauma. Many people have reported symptoms appearing decades after being exposed to trauma.
While military members are common among PTSD patients, women are two times more likely than men to experience PTSD, and it is often the result of trauma like domestic violence, physical abuse, or rape.
While some people are predisposed to post-traumatic stress disorder, it can impact anyone. As PTSD has many symptoms, its important to remember that someone may only express one of the following symptomsor all of them.
Each affected person will have a unique experience with PTSD and may experience any of the following:
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How Do Children And Teens React To Trauma
Children and teens can have extreme reactions to trauma, but their symptoms may not be the same as those seen in adults. In young children under the age of 6, symptoms can include:
- Wetting the bed after having learned to use the toilet
- Forgetting how or being unable to talk
- Acting out the scary event during playtime
- Being unusually clingy with a parent or other adult
Older children and teens usually show symptoms more like those seen in adults. They also may develop disruptive, disrespectful, or destructive behaviors. Older children and teens may feel guilty for not preventing injury or deaths. They also may have thoughts of revenge.
For more information, see the National Institute of Mental Health brochure, Helping Children and Adolescents Cope With Disasters and Other Traumatic Events.
How Can Parents Help
Above all, your child needs your support and understanding. Sometimes other family members like parents and siblings will need support too. While family and friends can play a key role in helping someone recover, help usually is needed from a trained therapist.
Here are some other things parents can do to support kids with PTSD:
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How Can I Help A Loved One
When someone is diagnosed with PTSD, loved ones can also experience a lot of difficulties. You may feel guilty or angry about the trauma itselfthen, on top of those feelings, experience difficulties around PTSD. You may feel like your loved one is a different person, worry that things will never be normal, or wonder what will happen in the future. Here are some tips to help you cope:
With support, people can recover from PTSD and the effects of trauma. Recovery is good for the entire family, especially for young people who are still learning how to interact with the world. A loved ones recovery is a chance for everyone to learn the skills that support wellness.
Mood And Cognitive Changes
People with PTSD may have a shift in the way they view the world, others, and themselves. They often feel they cant trust other people or themselves. They may decide the world is not a safe place, Pole says.
Its also common for people with PTSD to feel shameful. In an effort to make sense of the event, they blame themselves. They falsely believe that if its their fault, they can make sure it doesnt happen again, which is particularly true for women who experience sexual assault.
Men, on the other hand, often feel shame because they believe they werent strong enough to stop the trauma. Its a way to feel that they have some control over what happened to them. But what that shame does is keep them stuck, Pole says.
Other mood and cognition symptoms of PTSD include difficulty remembering certain parts of the trauma, feelings of isolation and detachment, decreased interest in activities you once enjoyed, and difficulties experiencing positive emotions. These symptoms can be especially challenging for patients to cope with because theyre not easily diagnosable.
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Trauma Avoidance Signs Of Ptsd
Many survivors will avoid locations, people, or even topics of conversation that remind them of the traumatic event itself. Trauma avoidance signs of PTSD include an aversion to emotions, cognitions, or conversations about the traumatic experience, avoidance of places that cause reminders of the trauma and avoidance of hobbies or activities due to all of the fear surrounding the trauma.
Dissociative symptoms also can set in during the brains attempts at avoidance, including sensations of depersonalization and derealization , as well as general emotional detachment and social alienation.
Many PTSD survivors also find themselves detached from positive feelings, as the brain attempts to build an emotional wall, leaving them with feelings of emptiness or flat demeanors. Many PTSD survivors will also begin to ascribe to the belief that they will not live a full life due to their near-death experiences, causing a host of lifestyle issues as they may avoid long-term planning around jobs, careers, relationships or families.