Tuesday, July 9, 2013

What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Anyway?

You can find serenity in learning that even if you do have a problem, there is always a solution. When a person experiences a serious, traumatic event, she should be prepared to have many people tell her that she that  she will suffer from post traumatic stress syndrome.  When two of my children and I were struck by a hit and run truck driver recently my husband joined the chorus of people telling me to watch out and that I was suffering from PTSD aka post traumatic stress disorder. I am a technical person, words matter to me, definitions are important to me so I got out my computer and started to research to find out what PTSD meant for my daughters and I.

Post traumatic stress disorder is a severe anxiety disorder in which symptoms develop after a direct experience of an extremely traumatic stressor such as a threat of violence, death or serious injury.
In order to meet the definition or PTSD the person must react with intense fear, helplessness or horror. Additionally symptoms may include a persistent re-experiencing of the traumatic event as well as a continuing avoidance of reminders of the stressful event. There may also be a numbing of general responsiveness. According to WebMd, PTSD is one of only a few mental disorders triggered by an outside event.

When looking at this definition it is hard to see where, a general feeling nervousness and upset about the incident ends and PTSD begins. If like me, you experience a traumatic incident, do what I am doing:
  • write down what you are thinking, feeling and experiencing
  • be honest about your feelings and experiences
  • find someone close  to talk to about how you feel
  • be brave when trying to live life, but not reckless
  • if you think you need professional help, go get it
Post traumatic stress disorder is a real disorder, it is a real problem and should be treated as such. One should never be ashamed of a mental disorder, just as one would not be ashamed to have cancer, heart disease or diabetes. If you think you have PTSD, put on your big girl panties and get some help. You would not ignore any other disease or disorder, so don't ignore this one. Post traumatic shock disorder is the result of something big, serious and horrible happening. In my case, my children and I were struck by a hit and run driver. One of my daughters was hit so hard she was thrown down the street and knocked out of her shoes. When I got up off the street after being struck, there were a few seconds when I could not find my children. Those events alone are sufficient to cause PTSD.

serene Sunday, PTSD, post traumatic shock disorder, trauma, help, symptoms
Photo Credit: Janeane Davis, What is Post Traumatic Stress Anyway

Look at your life, look at the traumatic event you experienced. Keep in mind that trauma varies from person to person. You may be able to experience what happened to my daughters and I and not be phased at all. I may be able to experience your trauma and not have any negative reaction. PTSD is an individual event. So when trauma occurs, do not compare your reaction to those of others in a similar situation. Look at your experience. There are several things to look at and if you are experiencing them, please seek medical help:
  • flashbacks
  • emotional detachment
  • jumpiness
Keep in mind, it is normal to experience these symptoms for a while after a traumatic event. However, if these symptoms are unbearable, interfere with everyday life or last more than one month, it is time to seek medical attention. In conclusion, even if you discover that you have a problem, be encouraged and know there is a solution. So, the question for you this serene day is what problem you are trying to deny?

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