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About PTSD

Causes

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a problem in which the brain continues to react with extreme nervousness after a horrific trauma, even though the original trauma is over. A survivor’s brain can react by staying in overdrive and being hyper-alert to the next possible trauma.

A Veterans Affairs Medical Center psychiatrist, Rachel Yehuda, studied a group of women who were all pregnant and near the Twin Towers on the day of the 9-11 terrorist attacks. Her findings, published in the July 2005 issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, suggest that women who developed PTSD may have passed on a chemical marker for the disorder to their unborn children.

Incidence

PTSD occurs far more often than most people realize. It affects nearly 8 million American adults, according to the National Mental Health Association. According to the American Psychological Association, PTSD is "an anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened. Traumatic events that may trigger PTSD include violent personal assaults, natural or human-caused disasters, such as terrorist attacks, motor vehicle accidents, rape, physical and sexual abuse, other crimes, or military combat."

Symptoms

A person with PTSD may suffer from flashbacks, nightmares, and intrusive thoughts. They may try to avoid thoughts, feelings, situations, or people who might remind them of the trauma. They may also remain alert, have trouble sleeping, become irritable, have difficulty concentrating, and exhibit an exaggerated startle response. Depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and low self-esteem often become troublesome for survivors who develop PTSD after trauma. Many contemplate suicide as a means of escaping their pain.

About PTSD

Other associated physical symptoms of PTSD include:

  • chronic pain
  • headaches
  • stomach pain
  • diarrhea
  • tightness in the chest
  • muscle cramps
  • back pain

Social issues associated with PTSD include:

  • feelings of mistrust
  • problems at work, at school, or in social situations
  • alcohol and drug abuse
  • intimacy problems with partner, family members, and friends




When to Seek Help

In the short term, most people might experience some of these symptoms after experiencing a trauma. But if any symptoms last more than a month and affect job performance or the ability to function at work, school, or in relationships, survivors should consult a licensed mental health professional. Finding a psychiatrist who works together with a licensed counselor to treat PTSD with medication and psychotherapy is the best solution. And if a depressed person expresses that they would rather die than continue to live with their problems, they should be taken immediately to the nearest emergency room.

Resources

For several years, I have been writing a blog with helpful suggestions for overcoming PTSD. You can find all of my posts by going to Cheryl's Thoughts. Below are some other websites which might be helpful:

  1. http://www.emedicinehealth.com/post-traumatic_stress_disorder_ptsd/article_em.htm
  2. http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/918844-overview
  3. http://ptsd.about.com/od/prevalence/PostTraumatic_Stress_Disorder_Prevalence_Rates.htm
  4. http://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/pages/epidemiological-facts-ptsd.asp
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