PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)

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      I want to share with you a little bit about the signs and symptoms of PTSD which will hopefully be validating to those of you suffering PTSD. Even though it manifests differently for different people, yet similar to how certain physical disorders have quite distinct symptoms, so does PTSD.

      If you, or a loved one is suffering PTSD, you might really benefit from better understanding that this is what you’re dealing with, or this might help you begin to explore the possibility and perhaps talk it through with a professional.

      My personal experience: I’ll say more about this in another comment below, but just to mention that my insights don’t just come from my experience with clients and trainings (although that has all been very helpful), I also have had more than my fair share of PTSD in my life. In my early years of healing, I really was in PTSD so much of the time without having a label for it. I attended regular counselling from 19 onwards, yet none of my counsellors helped me identify the ptsd, but the more I understood that this was what I was experiencing, the more I could identify when the ptsd symptoms were strong and when they subsided, helping me start to build a stronger sense of the “real me” and the more wounded traumatized aspects of self. Developing this clarity played a big part in my healing and helped me give myself permission to slow down, rest and sleep more and generally better care for myself at those times, just as we do when we have the flu or sprain an ankle. There isn’t yet enough permission to take the emotional ailments as seriously as the physical ailments, but that’s exactly what the journey of healing requires.

      Post traumatic stress relates to certain symptoms that many people suffer from after a traumatic event, an event which was experienced as a shock and one that was extremely distressing and overwhelming at the time. It’s normal and natural for people to feel very “out of it”, shocked, out of balance, experience emotional highs and lows, changes in apetite and experience nightmares after a shocking event. Most people recover within about 3 months. Those who don’t recover can develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder PTSD.

      Some of the typical symptoms are: hyperarousal (being jumpy, easily over-stimulated, reactive to loud noises), dissociation (feeling numbed out, difficulty in maintaining focus and attention, feeling disconnected emotionally, craving distractions like spending time on screens), and intrusions (where images of the disturbing events keep coming to mind, stressful cyclical thoughts go round and round reliving the event, trying to figure it all out, conflicting urges to talk lots and seek support yet feeling over-exposed and fragile and wanting to hide away and feeling unsociable.

      PTSD is a disorder which may develop after a person is exposed to one or more traumatic events, such as sexual assault, warfare, serious injury, or threats of imminent death. The diagnosis may be given when a group of symptoms, such as disturbing recurring flashbacks, avoidance or numbing of memories of the event, and hyperarousal, continue for more than a month after the occurrence of a traumatic event.

      Most people having experienced a very shocking and overwhelming event will not develop PTSD. People who experience assault-based trauma are more likely to develop PTSD, as opposed to people who experience non-assault based trauma such as witnessing trauma, natural disasters like earth quakes, accidents, and fire events. Children are less likely to experience PTSD after trauma than adults, especially if they are under ten years of age. Yet on the other hard, children are more vulnerable to stress because of their level of helplessness, the biggest factors by far relate to the responses of their caregivers, whether the effects on them are recognized or not and hence whether they get the help, protection and soothing they need. War veterans are commonly at risk for PTSD. There are many and varied factors that contribute to whether traumatic stress develops into PTSD.

      Post traumatic stress disorder is classified as an anxiety disorder in the DSM IV; the characteristic symptoms are not present before exposure to the violently traumatic event. In the typical case, the individual with PTSD persistently avoids all thoughts and emotions, and discussion of the stressor event and may experience amnesia for it. However, the event is commonly relived by the individual through intrusive, recurrent recollections, flashbacks, and nightmares. The characteristic symptoms are considered acute if lasting less than three months, and chronic if persisting three months or more, and with delayed onset if the symptoms first occur after six months or some years later. PTSD is distinct from the briefer acute stress disorder, and can cause clinical impairment in significant areas of functioning.

      I haven’t delved in to how to heal PTSD, again it’s a huge and complex subject, but most of the resources in this self-healing group can play a part in the journey managing, lessening and even healing PTSD. Complex PTSD is another sub-topic in itself, which I’m happy to share more about and related resources if anyone’s particularly interested.

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