Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Someone was asking recently about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

First of all, here are the criteria that define the Disorder itself:

--The original trauma: there is or was danger to yourself or others, and feelings of fear, horror, helplessness, feeling trapped
--Flashbacks, reactions to stimuli similar to the traumatic events, i.e. freaking out when a man makes a fist
--Arousal symptoms, staying awake, anger, too much or too little concentration, vigilance
--Avoiding discussion about the event, associated thoughts/feelings, memory-triggering actions, trauma memory blackout, withdrawal from life activities, less ability to feel, fear of future constraint
--Symptoms that last more than a month
--Serious impairment on the job, social relations, and so forth; regression

In other words: the experience keeps rising up from your subconscious to "attack" you, you are "aroused" to react to it, you do all you can to avoid reliving it, and the syndrome lasts long-term and impairs your ability to function.

Experts have identified a number of obvious causes; one intriguing study suggested that although PTSD occurred often in the obvious group – military vets – the one group that scored even higher was adults who had been in foster care during their teens; the foster kids had a sky-high incidence rate and lousy recovery rates. So trouble at home can be as bad as the battlefield. Abuse, trauma, rape and combat are common causes.

We found two PTSD questionnaires you can take. Here is the first one, and here is the second.

There is a wide range of treatments for PTSD – therapy, medication etc – which you can discuss with a qualified professional. Your local DV center may be able to find you the doctor you need.

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