The person you work with or sit next to on the bus every morning might be suffering from PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder without you knowing it. Individuals with this mental health disorder are often very good at hiding it in public, at work, or among school friends if they have learned coping mechanisms.
When they reach a crisis, however, many aspects of life fall away and it is impossible to hide the problem. Loved ones and colleagues become confused. The trouble for sufferers and those around them is often recognizing what they are witnessing and knowing what to do about it.
What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?
After experiencing a traumatic event, every person involved must learn to cope with what they saw, heard, smelled, felt, and now have to remember about that event. It could be a tragic and grisly accident or something that was done to him or her. There might have been witnesses or no one around to help.
The trauma might have involved abuse by a loved one or responding to crisis which is what soldiers, firemen, ambulance drivers, and police personnel do all the time. Doctors and nurses sometimes suffer from PTSD after seeing children who have been severely injured following child abuse or treating victims of a major accident. Violent and sudden death is a common catalyst.
Memories want to resurface, but some people will stuff them down. Others will be assailed by flashbacks that rob them of sleep and peace. It’s not unusual for someone to block out a memory and then have it resurface later in life leading to confusion and doubt.
Did this really happen? Youngsters who suffered physical, sexual, or emotional abuse at the hands of parents or family friends feel guilt and shame. The responsible driver in a fatal car accident and his family members have to deal with guilt and other emotions.
Unless one is able to find a healthy coping mechanism right away, PTSD is likely to become a problem. It might not be immediate, but this mental health disorder will slowly be brewing in an individual’s mind. Eventually, signs are going to show. They come out in assorted ways, often reflecting one’s desire to feel safe instead of being a victim. A person might even re-enact what he did or what was done to him, taking the role of aggressor.
Anxiety and depression are common. PTSD frequently presents as suicidal ideation or even committing suicide. A slow version of suicide is the use and abuse of drugs and alcohol or refusing to eat. When faced with the person who caused trauma or the place where it happened, an individual might show physical signs of distress, such as nausea, although sufferers usually don’t want to face the person or place associated with a traumatic event.
Sufferers frequently push friends, children, and a spouse away. They feel unworthy of love and are unable to trust others. Loneliness doesn’t have to be another symptom of PTSD, however; not if loved ones are vigilant, offering help and guiding their friend/sibling/parent to appropriate psychiatric services.
Support for PTSD
Often this is a co-existing condition and will be uncovered during treatment for an eating disorder or drug addiction. A psychiatric professional works with clients on a personal basis but also encourages participation in group support. A number of addiction/disorder treatment centers use animal interaction as a form of treatment which helps to develop feelings of safety, trust, and periods of joy. This gives rise to new hope.
Outside of such structured support environs, anyone who thinks or talks about death regularly, whether in the form of a death wish or plans to commit suicide, should seek treatment immediately. Feelings of fear, anxiety, anger, and shame can and should be addressed professionally. Support and treatment are available and recovery is possible for those affected directly and indirectly by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder so that a cycle of trauma is not repeated.