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PTSD – What Is It? In the past, people gave PTSD many names, such as shell shock, combat fatigue, war neurosis, and even a soldier’s heart.  These names describe what people thought caused PTSD but did not give real information. It was the mid-1980s before the term was added to mental health manuals as a post-traumatic stress disorder.

PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, is often thought to be caused when someone witnesses or experiences a traumatic event. Natural disasters, serious accidents, war, and combat or terrorism are among these. However, personal assaults, such as rape, can also result in post-traumatic stress. One thing to keep in mind is that even low-level trauma and stress are cumulative. Eventually, these may lead to a PTSD diagnosis.man sleeping on street

While PTSD does not stop at cultural or national, or even gender boundaries, it does seem to affect some minority groups more. Women are also more likely to have post-traumatic stress disorder.

PTSD – What’s Going On?

No one knows what causes PTSD, but they think it has to do with stress hormones.

When a person experiences traumatic events, the body releases a burst of hormones, either adrenaline or norepinephrine. This creates a “fight or flight” mode. These stress hormones give the body a lot of sudden energy and create a lull in other brain activity, such as short term memory. This body response is designed to give someone energy to get out of a dangerous situation.

However, after the triggering event is over, the body should stop producing these hormones. People with PTSD still have too many of these hormones produced when the danger is in the past.

The constant flow of hormones means that the part of the brain that handles fear and other emotions works more than it should. In the long term, PTSD can cause the part of the brain that controls memory to shrink.

PTSD-What It Looks Like

People who have post-traumatic stress disorder live with intense thoughts and feelings that disrupt their daily lives. This can go on for years after the event has ended. Flashbacks and nightmares are common. Anger, sadness, and fear are a part of daily life.

Personal connections to family and friends may change because people living with PTSD feel detached, at odds with the world. Loud noises or an unexpected touch might cause a strong reaction.

Those struggling with PTSD may not be able to remember all the facts from their experience. It might be even more complicated if the trauma happened over months to years. PTSD to have false beliefs about themselves or others. This can lead to a cycle of withdrawal, estrangement, fear, and a host of other negative emotions that destroys relationships.

This is difficult for those who have PTSD and difficult for family members who feel helpless and abandoned. It can be confusing all around when a person living with PTSD is reliving a traumatic event.

When To Seek Help

helpSometimes daily life puts us off balance for a day. But if you have symptoms that interfere in life for more than a month, it may be time to see a doctor. Physical and emotional symptoms of PTSD may include:

  • Hyper-awareness or being on guard
  • Easily startled or frightened
  • Aggressive behavior, irritability, and angry outbursts
  • Trouble sleeping or concentrating
  • Self-destructive behaviors like drinking too much, drug use, reckless driving, or other activities.

In younger children, some of these symptoms of PTSD may look like re-enacting all or part of the traumatic events as they play. They may also have frightening dreams.

There Is Hope

If you’re feeling suicidal, seek immediate help. Don’t wait; call someone now- a friend, a spiritual leader. Some people will help you and are trustworthy.

PTSD is overwhelming and destructive. But it doesn’t have to be your ‘new regular. You can seek help from caring and qualified providers who can diagnose your PTSD and start a treatment program. Reclaim your life by calling the Olympus Healing Center at 385-421-5400.