Patti doesn’t feel good today. She had nighmares last night, woke up at 3 a.m. and never was able to go back to sleep. She’s jittery and feels she is somehow out of her body. She’d like to take a drink but that would only make things worse, if they could get any worse. It would do her some good to get out of her apartment but she avoids going out when she can. If only the terrible intrusive thoughts would stop, But they won’t. Patti suffers from post traumatic stress disorder also known as PTSD.
What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?
Post traumatic stress disorder can happen after you have been through a distressing and unnerving event that you see or that happens to you.
How many people does it affect?
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, In the U.S. alone as many as 8% of the population are affected with post traumatic stress disorder. That’s more than 13 million people. Women have the highest percentage at 10%. 5% of men develop it. Teens and children can also develop it.
What are the causes?
- Being directly exposed to a trauma such as a natural disaster as a victim or a witness
- Being seriously hurt during the event
- Going through a trauma that was long-lasting or very severe
- Believing that you were in danger
- Believing that a family member was in danger
- Having a severe reaction during the event, such as crying, shaking, vomiting, or feeling apart from your surroundings
- Feeling helpless during the trauma and were not able to help yourself or a loved one
- Having another mental health problem
- Having family members who have had mental health problems
- Having little support from family and friends
- Having recently lost a close friend or relative, especially if it was not expected
- Having had recent, stressful life changes
- Drinking a lot of alcohol
- Being a victim of any type of sexual assault+
- Being a professional who responds to trauma victims such as EMTs, search and rescue workers, police, etc.
- Being a domestic violence survivor
- Being a victims of violence such as those that take place in public, in schools or in the workplace
What are some of the symptoms?
- Thoughts that invade your mind and won’t stop causing fear, humiliation and helplessness
- Heart beats faster and sweating of palms
- Difficulty sleeping
- Trouble with relationships
- Fearful of going places
- Feeling disconnected to oneself
- Loss of interest in things normally likes
- Panic attacks
- Chronic irritability
- Mood swings
- Loss of meaning in your life
- Suicidal thoughts
Links to other sites about PTSD
- About.com Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder DSM -IV Diagnosis and Criteria
- PTSD Alliance
- PTSD: National Center for PTSD, U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs
Note: Next post will deal with getting help for PTSD.