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When Stress isn’t just Stress

Monday, May 19, 2014

When Stress isn’t just Stress

What is Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?

Though it may seem like a relatively simple concept, trauma—a powerful experience that may have long-lasting effects—has not always been defined the same. Scientists continue to study experiences of trauma in hopes of finding better treatments. One particular type of trauma is known as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Though it may seem like a relatively simple concept, trauma—a powerful experience that may have long-lasting effects—has not always been defined the same. Scientists continue to study experiences of trauma in hopes of finding better treatments. One particular type of trauma is known as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

PTSD can affect many different people, from survivors of rape, domestic violence and survivors of natural disasters to military service men and women. Roughly 10 percent of women and 5 percent of men are diagnosed with PTSD in their lifetimes, and many others will experience some adverse effects from trauma at some point in their lives.

What are Symptoms of PTSD?

PTSD symptoms usually start to occur directly after a traumatic event, but sometimes it may take months or years for them to show up. They may also come and go over the course of many years.

1. Persistent Re-experiencing: A person experiences one or more of the following:

recurrent nightmares or flashbacks; recurrent images or memories of the event—these images or memories often occur without actively thinking about the event; intense distress of reminders of the trauma; and/or physical reactions to triggers that symbolize or resemble the event.

2. Avoidant/Numbness Responses: A person experiences three or more of the following: efforts to avoid feelings or triggers associated with the trauma; avoidance of activities, places or people that remind the person of the trauma; inability to recall an important aspect of the trauma; markedly diminished interest in activities; feelings of detachment or estrangement from others; restricted range of feelings; and/or difficulty thinking about the long-term future—sometimes this expresses itself by a failure to plan for the future or taking risks because the person does not fully believe or consider the possibility that they will be alive for a normal lifespan.

3. Increased Arousal: A person experiences two or more of the following: difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep; outbursts of anger/irritability; difficulty concentrating; increased vigilance that may be maladaptive; and/ or exaggerated startle response

How do you treat Posttraumatic Stress Disorder?

In the aftermath of a traumatic event, individual choices can make a difference. Several common coping strategies, such as substance use, appear to yield short-term relief but create problems over time and should be discourage. Receiving proper treatment as soon as possible is key to producing positive outcomes.

Treatment strategies should be customized to the individual’s needs and reflect the treatment plan of their choosing. Treatment and support options should also reflect an individual’s stage of recovery—interventions that make sense immediately after a trauma may not be appropriate years later. Remember, Hope is only a phone call away. Please call 573-860-1601-02 to speak to our staff confidentially.

This content has been provided by www.nami.com, the National Alliance on Mental Health

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