PTSD is an anxiety disorder that has been around since the beginning of mankind. Its symptoms were recognized and mentioned in the Old Testament of the Bible. It is the result of being exposed to an event or events that are so severe and traumatizing that they basically overload the mind. If you are young under the age of 20 it can physically change the brain permanently.
PTSD symptoms are frequently chronic and can be delayed for many years before overcoming the victim. Symptoms include intrusive thoughts, racing thoughts, paranoia, agoraphobia, flashbacks, irritability, severe nightmares, night sweats, depression and other anxiety disorder.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder sometimes incorrectly referred to by the media as post traumatic syndrome, can be caused or triggered by witnessing or being involved any number trauma related events. These include combat, car accidents, domestic battery, rape, assault, industrial accidents, murder, imprisonment and personal injury. The response to these events is entirely personal. Events that have no effect on others or even events that you have witnessed previously may not have any effect on you in terms of PTSD.
The event that causes you to suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder may seem to pass without note or it can cause you to have a total breakdown immediately after the experience. Again this is normal as each of us responds differently to the trauma. Marines, soldiers, sailors, police officers, EMS, firemen and first responders who are under orders or carrying out their profession frequently show no immediate effect to a trauma event or series of events. Many of these people do what is commonly called “stuffing it” or ignoring it. The effects of stuffing their exposure frequently means the anxiety disorder will show up later, sometimes many years later.
Other Post Traumatic Stress Disorder suffers may have an immediate response to the event. They can be severely affected within hours or days. Hopefully there are mental health professionals available to provide treatment. It is understood that if you receive treatment relatively soon after a trauma event you have a much better ability overcome the symptoms of PTSD. Frequently just discussing the event shortly after it has occurred can go a long way to healing the wounds.
Individuals suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder frequently develop additional mental disorders as a result of their PTSD. These include depression, substance abuse, alcoholism, sleep disorders, suicide, agoraphobia, GAD and panic disorder. In addition physical medical problems also increase and can include cardiac, dental, intestinal, and digestive diseases. Some physicians feel it also increases the risk of cancer.
People who suffer from PTSD in the chronic delay form seem to suffer the most and tend have more trouble controlling the symptoms. Many combat veterans have come home thinking they have escaped the effects of what they endured only to find that PTSD symptoms show up years later.
Many of us have used various methods to control and hide the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Some sufferers have used exercise, adrenalin rushes and work to control it. Others have used alcohol and drugs and still others have just gone and bunkered up and shut out the real world. Most of us have sleep problems, by that I mean we don’t sleep. For more than 20 years I lived on about 2 hours a night. Its really another way to control symptoms, if you do not sleep you do not dream.Combat Vets know that living with untreated PTSD is hell on earth. Dealing with it long after the effects symptoms have taken hold is certainly a trying ordeal as well. It has to be dealt with or you will not have a normal life and it can even significantly shorten your life. The choice is yours. Understand that the treatment and medications do not cure you but they lesson the control that the symptoms place on you.
As A mentor to combat vets and law enforcement officers who are dealing with PTSD and its symptoms, our job is to facilitate getting the people into treatment programs and then mentor them through the long process of getting control of their symptoms. This process can be further complicated by substance abuse or associated mental health problems. Mentoring is hard work but If combat vets and cops do not help each other then no one does. The process of getting control of PTSD symptoms can be a long and sometimes difficult endeavor.
If you think you have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or know someone who does, you can generally get assistance by contacting your county veterans service officer or Department of Veterans Affairs Veterans Readjustment Center. The VA has a great deal of expertise in dealing with this disorder. Even if you are not a vet they frequently know what mental health resources are available to affectively treat PTSD. If your are in a Job that does not allow you to have PTSD like law enforcement, active duty military, fire fighters and other first responders, you must choose carefully who you work with. Trust is everything when it comes to dealing with and treating PTSD. Eventually you will have to make a decision as to staying in your profession. It is far better that you make that decision then to have someone else make it for you. I am not only a combat vet but I am an ex law enforcement officer and I know what it is like to suffer from PTSD.
Again the worse thing you can do is to try to ignore the problem until the symptoms become too severe for you to manage. Today is the best time to start dealing with your Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Life is a hell of a lot better when you have the help and the tools necessary to control the symptoms as opposed to them controlling you. It can and will get better if you work at it. Start looking for resources to help you now.