I’ve shared with you on many occasions the trauma I’ve endured and how I have found hope when coping with PTSD. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is something we don’t talk enough about or follow through with skills to help those suffering with any kind of trauma. PTSD is real and affects so many. This is not an illness or disorder that you can see, this is something that lurks hidden for those suffering.
Finding Hope When Coping with PTSD
The 21st century so far has seen a dramatic increase in violence around the world and includes many ongoing conflicts in a variety of areas. From the terror attacks on 9/11 to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, America has had an active military for the last 16 years and has sent thousands of men and women overseas to fight. In addition to the 200,000 Vietnam veterans who currently suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD, the number of veterans in recent wars diagnosed with PTSD is staggering. The number of diagnoses among deployed troops increased 400% between 2004 and 2012, according to Time Magazine.
The Scars Within
As a result of these armed conflicts, many veterans have returned from wars insured or sustaining permanent disabilities. These physical injuries may prevent them from seeking the kind of job they held before the war and can create challenges with raising families. It is important to remember that some of the most common injuries suffered by veterans are invisible but very real. One might not be able to recognize someone with post-traumatic stress disorder simply by looking at him or her, but the illness is very apparent to the sufferer and their family.
Many people, unfortunately, are in denial about suffering from PTSD because of old-fashioned notions that those who sustained trauma after serving in combat are not strong or are not coping well. As President Obama noted in the speech to veterans, seeking treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder has similar importance to being treated for physical illness, and it takes strength to deal with the problem.
The Symptoms of PTSD
A person who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder has a set of symptoms which may become more mild or severe depending on the situation. People may develop PTSD if they have suffered trauma during an extreme event such as a war, sexual assault or a life-threatening accident. It is possible to develop post-traumatic stress disorder for a limited period of time over a single event. For instance, a car accident can give someone post-traumatic stress disorder to the point where they avoid traveling in a car for a certain amount of time. However, the symptoms of anxiety may eventually this disappear and they may be able to drive and travel again. Complex post-traumatic stress disorder develops after repeated exposure to extreme events and may be permanent.
A person with post-traumatic stress disorder may have about the reaction when something reminding them of the events triggers a response. Exaggerated startle response is a common sign of post-traumatic stress disorder and is observed through extreme sensitivity to noise or sudden shocks. The sufferer may have periods where they seem to show little or no emotion alternating with extreme flights of rage. The PTSD sufferer might find it difficult to avoid being triggered by ordinary things such as riding a bus or listening to children play with toy guns. This is why it is important for PTSD sufferers to seek treatment.
Research and Treatments
Thanks to updated research, treatment and organizations that help veterans and other people struggling with PTSD, living with this condition can be easier than ever before and many PTDS sufferers can handle full employment and to raise families. Organizations such The Wounded Warrior Project with numerous supporters, including Bruce Eaton, make resources available for veterans suffering from physical disabilities and PTSD. Research has shown that PTSD symptoms can be managed in or reduced with psychological treatments, medication and in some cases, yoga and relaxation techniques.
Research has seen some success with the way suffers from post-traumatic stress respond to exposure therapy. This treatment involves replicating the situation that created trauma and encouraging the sufferer to face the fear of it and eventually master the anxiety. Virtual reality technology has been helpful in constructing a similar situation that makes exposure therapy effective. Cognitive processing allows the PTSD sufferer to reappraise their attitudes and feelings regarding the trauma. This can be helpful in influencing the way they react to stimuli. One controversial yet widespread treatment is EMDR which uses rapid eye movement to re-experience the trauma producing event. There is little research that demonstrates how this treatment works, but many veterans have experienced positive effects.
Veterans have responded positively to yoga as a way of managing post-traumatic stress symptoms. In addition, meditation and breathing exercises can help prevent an extreme reaction to stress and anxiety. While medication is often prescribed as a last resort after other techniques have been tried, it is been effective in reducing symptoms. Common medications used by PTSD sufferers are Paxil and Zoloft.
Living with PTSD
Although Post-traumatic stress disorder can be a potentially debilitating illness, there is greater awareness about the condition nowadays, and those struggling with PTSD have more support than ever before. In addition, research has aided in the development of exposure therapy treatments and cognitive processing. While more work and research need to be done into relatively new treatments such as EMDR, some professionals working with veterans state that rapid eye movement therapy can be highly effective. With family and community support, including organizations such as Wounded Warriors, veterans have more than a fighting chance to lead successful lives with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Do you know of someone suffering with PTSD? Are you searching for ways to show them or even yourself that there is hope? I encourage you to seek help and to reach out, this is a fight we must face together. I would love to hear from you and we can share our experiences.