post traumatic stress disorder: Daniel ruddy


PTSD, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, is a stress related reaction that can occur after someone goes through, sees, or learns about a traumatic event.  Things like:  Combat exposure, childhood abuse of any kind, terrorist attack, sexual or physical assault, serious accident or natural disaster.  If the stress related reaction comes but does not go away, and interferes with life, it might be PTSD.  

Out of everyone who actually experiences a major traumatic event, 8% of men and 20% of women will develop PTSD.  

Signs and symptoms of PTSD include fear & anxiety along with increased agitation and hyperarousal.  Also sadness & Depression with loss of interest in normal activities and possibly crying.  Many with PTSD experience guilt and shame, especially what is known as survivor's guilt.  Another common symptom is Anger with irritability, overreacting and lashing out.  There can also be behavioral changes such as substance abuse, aggressive driving and avoidance.  

Treatment options for PTSD are different types of therapy as well as some medications.  Cognitive Behavioral, or CBT, is considered the most effective.  Another type of therapy is called Prolonged Exposure therapy.  This is a kind of CBT that involves reliving the trauma until it no longer causes pain.  EMDR or Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing is another therapy sometimes used.  This involves using distractions while the trauma is discussed.  Medications are often used along with therapy, including SSRI's which raise brain levels of Serotonin, and also benzodiazapines for anxiety.  

Help for PTSD if you are in crisis can be found by calling 911, heading to your nearest Emergency Room, Contacting the suicide prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, or if you happen to be a Veteran you can go to any VA medical center or call the Veterans crisis line at 1-800-273-8255 and press 1.  If you suspect you have PTSD but are not sure, contact a qualified mental health professional for evaluation.  

Resources for more information on PTSD include online sources, your local library for books on the topic, and also NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness.  





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