Suffering from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?
If you or someone you know are one of the 7,700,000 Americans that suffer
from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), there is good news.
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PTSD is an Anxiety disorder that some people get after seeing or living
through a dangerous event. When in danger, it’s natural to feel afraid. This
fear triggers many split-second changes in the body to prepare to defend
against the danger or to avoid it. This “fight-or-flight” response is a healthy
reaction meant to protect a person from harm. But in PTSD, this reaction is
changed or damaged. People who have PTSD may feel stressed or frightened even
when they’re no longer in danger.
Anyone can get PTSD at any age. This includes war veterans and survivors of physical and sexual assault, abuse, accidents, disasters, and many other serious events. Not everyone with PTSD has been through a dangerous event. Some people get PTSD after a friend or family member experiences danger or is harmed. The sudden, unexpected death of a loved one can also cause PTSD.
Going through trauma is not rare. About 6 of every 10 (or 60%) of men and 5 of every 10 (or 50%) of women experience at least one trauma in their lives. Women are more likely to experience sexual assault and child sexual abuse. Men are more likely to experience accidents, physical assault, combat, disaster, or to witness death or injury.
Here are some facts (based on the U.S. population)
About 10 of every 100 (or 10%) of women develop PTSD sometime in their lives compared with about 4 of every 100 (or 4%) of men. An estimated 70% of adults in the U.S. have experienced some type of traumatic event at least once in their lives. This equates to approximately 223.4 million people. And up to 20% of these people go on to develop PTSD. As of today, that equates to approximately 44.7 million people who were or are struggling with PTSD. An estimated 8% of Americans (24.4 million people) have PTSD at any given time. That is equal to the total population of Texas. See more here.
The primary issues of the US military and VA systems today are PTSD and pain disorders incurred in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Additionally, the military and VA are seeing the largest percent of suicides among the military and veterans in history. Estimates indicate that greater than three million veterans are afflicted with PTSD and/or various related illnesses, with an estimated 300,000 new cases each year. Currently, the methods used to treat these disorders are not effectively answering the veterans’ needs. Thus, the military and VA continue to seek effective alternatives. See article in The Reserve & National Guard Magazine here.
PTSD can cause many symptoms. These symptoms can be grouped into three
Category 1: Re-experiencing Symptoms
- Flashbacks—reliving the trauma over and over,
including physical symptoms like a racing heart or sweating
- Bad dreams
- Frightening thoughts
Category 2: Avoidance Symptoms
Things that remind a person of the traumatic event can trigger avoidance symptoms. These symptoms may cause a person to change his or her personal routine. For example, after a bad car accident, a person who usually drives may avoid driving or riding in a car.
- Staying away from places, events, or objects that are reminders of the experience
- Feeling emotionally numb
- Feeling strong guilt, depression, or worry
- Losing interest in activities that were enjoyable in the past
- Having trouble remembering the dangerous event
Category 3: Hyperarousal Symptoms
Hyperarousal symptoms are usually constant, instead of being triggered by things that remind one of the traumatic event. They can make the person feel stressed and angry. These symptoms may make it hard to do daily tasks, such as sleeping, eating, or concentrating.
- Being easily startled
- Feeling tense or “on edge”
- Having difficulty sleeping, and/or having angry outbursts