• Ten Things You May Not Know about PTSD, Part 2

    Post-traumatice stress disorder (PTSD) occurs when an event overcomes the brain’s ability to cope. The National Institute of Mental Health explains that PTSD occurs among those who have experienced shocking or scary events and have trouble recovering from the trauma. PTSD is experienced by children and the elderly, men and women, with varying symptoms.

    In a previous blog, we shared five lesser-known facts about PTSD. You also may be surprised to learn these facts about the aftermath of trauma and living with PTSD:

    6. People experience flashbacks differently. 

    Some people experience vivid flashbacks that immerse them in sights, sounds, smells, and emotions of their original trauma. The person literally feels as if they’ve been transported back to where and when their trauma occurred (explicit flashbacks). However, other people can become overwhelmed with the emotions and negative feelings of the event but don’t necessarily remember the event itself (implicit flashbacks). Some people may have implicit childhood flashbacks without memories that produce anxiety or a feeling of being overwhelmed or anxious.

    7. Exercise helps control PTSD symptoms.

    According to the Health and Fitness Cheat Sheet, exercise has known benefits for those who are stressed or depressed, and studies are showing exercise may be just as beneficial as traditional therapy. Jasper Smits, a licensed psychologist, tells The Guardian he found PTSD patients who exercised three times a week for two weeks reaped the same benefits as those who attended 12 therapy weekly therapy sessions.

    8. Everyone’s trauma threshold is different.

    Some people are more resilient than others, depending on their trauma history (Did the trauma occur at the stranger or trusted loved one? Once or ongoing? As a child or adult? Were collaborative abusers involved, etc.), environment, mental health, support system, etc. Greater resilience is not an indication of superior character; PTSD is caused by events for which a person is not responsible–often events which occur in childhood.

    9. Children and infants can experience PTSD.

    The most profound trauma can occur during pre-verbal medical procedures, when infants do not have the ability to formulate thoughts to express their fear, pain, and anger. According to the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, pediatric medical traumatic stress “is a set of psychological and physiological responses of children and their families to pain, injury, serious illness, medical procedures, and invasive or frightening treatment experiences.” Anything that can cause trauma in an adult can cause trauma in a child and childhood PTSD as well–natural disasters, accidents, sexual abuse, neglect, abuse. If your child shows sudden changes in personality or behavior (withdrawal, anger, rage, bedwetting, acting out), you may want to inquire about possible trauma.

    10. The PTSD epidemic is growing.

    PTSD is viewed as the fourth most common psychiatric diagnosis, affecting 10% of all men and 18% of all women. The lifetime prevalence of PTSD is 6.8%, and the 12-month prevalence is 3.5% among general adults in the United States.

    One in four children or adolescents in the United States has lived through one potentially traumatic event before the age of 16. Seven to eight individuals out of every 100 will experience PTSD at some point during their lives.

    In the United States, 61 percent of men and 51 percent of women have experienced at least one traumatic event during their lifetime. Of those individuals, 8.1 percent of men and 20.4 percent of women develop PTSD.

    Although medicine has made vast advances, growing evidence shows that the PTSD epidemic is worsening. Time magazine highlights a report that found the U.S. Department of Defense spent $294 million on PTSD treatments in 2012, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs spent $3 billion that same year. The report also found nearly 5% of all U.S. troops have been diagnosed with PTSD. And these numbers do not reflect the growing number of children and adolescents in violent homes, neighborhoods; those affected by domestic violence; people who have experienced natural disasters, technological disasters, and accidents; people who have suffered medical trauma; those who have experienced trauma through the death of loved ones, separation and loss; or the many first responders who intervene in human suffering on a daily  basis.

    Everyone will be touched by trauma and PTSD at some point, if they already haven’t. If not you, PTSD will stalk someone you love. Know the causes, the symptoms, the treatments. Your awareness may be the hope your loved one will one day need.


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