If you’re very lucky, you will never experience a traumatic event. Unfortunately, about 60% of men and 50% of women experience one in their lifetime. For those who have, the thoughts and feelings associated with this trauma may linger for days or weeks, but with time and care, the symptoms usually lessen. Fear is a natural self protection mechanism designed to keep us out of harm. However, a deeply distressing or disturbing experience, or prolonged exposure to life threatening situations, may cause an individual to develop Post-traumatic stress disorder, (PTSD). Out military troops suffer greatly from this affliction. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that PTSD afflicts almost 31 percent of Vietnam veterans.
As many as 10 percent of Gulf War (Desert Storm) veterans. 11 percent of veterans of the war in Afghanistan. Sadly, an average of 20 veterans commit suicide each day. With about 97% being male. People suffering from PTSD can re-experience the terror over and over again through nightmares, flashbacks, or intrusive memories. Many have to manage anxiety, sleep disturbances, depression, substance abuse, and chronic fatigue. Along with the negative thoughts and emotions, there are physical aspects., back pain, stomach pains, body aches. Some even feel physical sensations of their trauma. It’s all too easy to disregard a persons feelings or thoughts. Especially when at the moment, there may be no threat whatsoever. One may be tempted to tell the victim to stop being so negative. Or that everything will be OK. Or, it could be worse. They may try to tell them what they “should” do. These tactics invalidate the persons pain and create a stigma. This sense of shame or disgrace often keeps many people with PTSD from seeking treatment.
The good news is that PTSD can be treated with psychotherapy and medicines such as antidepressants. There are also a few things you can do to help your loved one manage their symptoms as well. Let them know that you will always be there for them so they feel loved and supported. Assure the person that you believe they’re capable of recovery and point out all thier positive qualities and successes. Structure and predictable schedules can restore a sense of stability and security Unfortunately, like most mental illnesses, PTSD is not strictly curable, but with professional treatment and a little help from loved ones, symptoms can improve significantly or even disappear. With a little love, patience and understanding, you and your loved ones can go back to living a normal life.
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