It is natural for us to get frightened and for the “fight or flight” stress response to get triggered in our body when we are faced with a danger or a traumatic event. It is also natural for the body to return back to normal once the trauma passes. But people with PTSD would continue to have this stress response even after the danger has passed.
Anyone can get PTSD at any age. This includes war veterans and survivors of physical and sexual assault, abuse, accidents, disasters, and many other serious events. Some people get PTSD after a friend or family member experiences danger or is harmed. The sudden, unexpected death of a loved one can also cause PTSD.
PTSD Symptoms: can be grouped into three categories:
1. Re-experiencing symptoms:
Flashback: reliving the trauma, feeling physical symptoms like a racing heart or sweating
Bad dreams, Frightening thoughts.
2. Avoidance symptoms:
Staying away, avoiding places, events, or objects that remind the experience
Feeling emotionally numb, not feeling much at all
Feeling strong guilt, depression, or worry
Losing interest in activities that were enjoyable in the past
Having trouble remembering the dangerous event
3. Hyperarousal symptoms:
Being easily startled, Feeling tense or “on edge”
Having difficulty sleeping, and/or having angry outbursts
Hyperarousal symptoms are usually constant, instead of being triggered by things that remind one of the traumatic event. They can make the person feel stressed and angry. These symptoms may make it hard to do daily tasks, such as sleeping, eating, or concentrating.
It is natural to have some of these symptoms after a dangerous event. Sometimes people have very serious symptoms that go away after a few weeks. This is called acute stress disorder, or ASD. When the symptoms last more than a few weeks and become an ongoing problem, they might be PTSD. Some people with PTSD don’t show any symptoms for weeks or months. It is important to remember that not everyone who lives through a dangerous event gets PTSD. In fact, most will not get the disorder.
People with PTSD can be helped with psychotherapy and/or medications. We are all different. People with PTSD should seek treatment from a mental health professional experienced with PTSD. If the symptoms do not improve, talk to your provider and find the treatment that works.
Stress Relief methods are a very helpful addition to your individual work as they trigger the relaxation response which is the opposite of the stress response. The hyperarousal symptoms noted above can be calmed down with relaxation.