Imagine waking up in the middle of every night from a nightmare, or flinching every time someone slams a door or the toaster goes off. Imagine listening to the ceiling fan and seeing it as a helicopter. Or hearing fireworks on the 4th of july and thinking them as bombs. Or being afraid to go to sleep so you have to have a gun under your pillow. Imagine locking yourself inside your home because you have a new view of the outside world. Imagine your shadow, it follows you constantly and can’t be taken away, PTSD is like a shadow, once you see and experience the reality of combat and war it will follow you like a shadow.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is not only the most common disorder a soldier has after seeing and being apart of combat, but is also one of the most dangerous disorders. Dr. Dorothy Farris who has treated more than 1000 patients with PTSD, says that symptoms include reexperiencing the trauma with nightmares, flashbacks, haunting memories, avoidance, social withdrawal, avoiding situations that remind him/her of trauma, and emotional behavioral changes such as anxiety, nightmares, hyperactive startle response, insomnia, irritability, survivor guilt. The symptoms have to be bad enough to affect the person’s ability to function. Sometimes the symptoms come up right after the trauma, or they can be delayed for many years. The symptoms are thought to be due to an overactive defense strategy of the brain. The brain wants to protect the trauma victim, so it stays on high alert even after the danger has passed.The worst thing in my opinion about PTSD is that it is not an illness you can prevent, and one that any individual can be effected by. Another scary fact about PTSD is that typically when an individual experiences it they don’t talk about it. Most don’t talk about it because they think it makes them weak, and others because the details of the event are to horrific to talk about. As a result sadly the people who have PTSD but aren’t diagnosed with it or don’t talk about it live in a long state of depression before eventually committing suicide. Dr. Farris also explains using a diagnostic interview and watching someone’s behavior. There are no blood tests or other medical tests for the disorder. The person had to experience or witness a traumatic event at some point. A trauma is when someone’s life or safety is threatened. Sexual or emotional abuse can also be traumatic. The most studied trauma is that suffered by soldiers in combat. Secondly, the person has to experience symptoms as a result of the trauma. These symptoms have to persist for at least a month after the trauma.
Even though there is no specific cures for PTSD, patients have experienced help through psychotherapy and medications in order to ease the pain and manage their depression and anxiety. Most patients are directed to help from loved ones who notice changes in their behavior and daily activities, on account of most patients who have PTSD will not admit it. Therapy is the main source to curing PTSD even though it is a long and slow process. Most doctors such as Dorothy Farris talk to the individual about the event and attempt to modify their negative thoughts, behaviors, and emotional responses associated with the patience psychological distress. Another process is to reduce stress from eye movements or putting the individual in a safe environment where they can talk about and handle the event that took place. In certain cases doctors will prescribe the individual with medication such as Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) in order to help them ease symptoms of depression and anxiety.
PTSD is a lot more common in people then an average person thinks. For example, an estimated 24.4 million americans (8%) have had PTSD at a given time. Studies have also shown that women are twice as likely to have PTSD than men with an estimated 1 out of every 10 women, and with any person who experiences a traumatic or terrifying event, they have a 60-80% chance of developing PTSD. Typically PTSD is most commonly seen in veterans because they are filled with combat and near death experiences which they cannot forget, and over the last year the amount of diagnosed cases in the military jumped 50% showing that every 1 in 5 veterans returning from deployment will have PTSD. All in all PTSD is a very common and dangerous illness that will follow anyone until treated properly. In order to understand more about PTSD.
In conclusion, PTSD is one of the most major mental illnesses. It causes your mind to replay horrific events that you have experienced. The way it is diagnosed is by noticing changes in the individual’s behavior, and once it is diagnosed the only cure for it is intensive therapy and medication. This illness causes severe depression and anxiety more often than not causing the individual to commit suicide. All in all PTSD has affected and taken numerous veterans lives and needs to be researched more in order to help those who put their lives on the line for us.