PTSD stands for post-traumatic stress disorder. It is a mental health disorder that can occur at any age after someone has experienced dangerous or scary events, such as a car accident, natural disaster, physical abuse or incidents that have occurred due to being a war veteran. It can also happen after the death of a loved one. Whatever the cause, some people may suffer from it for a few weeks or months and it gradually goes away with time. But for others, PSTD becomes chronic, disrupts everyday life, and goes on for years or even decades.
Symptoms and problems caused by PTSD include:
- Frightening thoughts
- Bad memories
- Being easily startled, anxious, irritable or on edge
- Trouble concentrating
- Feeling anxious
- Avoiding certain situations
- Negative beliefs and feelings
- Drinking or drug problems
- No longer interested in things you used to enjoy
- Relationship problems
- Employment issues
What can be done to help people with PTSD? For some, it just takes time. The PTSD fades or becomes less intense. After dealing with the death of an aging parent, you eventually get through the day without crying. You never forget, but you’ve accepted what happened and are able to move forward with your life. If you’re recovering from a car accident, you gradually stop being fearful of injury when you pass the location of your car accident. You’ll continue to be wary of the area and remember the teenager who ran that stop sign, but you’ve moved on.
But some people can’t move on. The events they’ve experienced are too much. These are the people who need to get help.
A psychiatrist or psychologist can diagnose PTSD. To reduce the risk, it is important to seek help from family, friends and support groups once a problem is realized. PTSD is not a sign of weakness. Counseling from behavioral health providers to learn positive coping strategies can be an important step in going forward with life. Medication properly prescribed can help others. Sometime a combination of the two is needed.
The number of our veterans who experience PTSD is astounding. They’ve been exposed to many horrible and frightening experiences. With this diagnosis finally getting the attention it deserves, many support groups and organizations are now available not only for veterans, but their families and caregivers.
It is important that the public becomes aware of PTSD and what effective treatments are out there. Through research, education and training, people can turn their lives around with many making a full recovery. Let the healing begin.