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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
PTSD is an emotional and behavioral disturbance that may occur after exposure to an exceptionally stressful, threatening, or catastrophic event. Even though 90% of adults have at least one intense traumatic event in their lifetime, not everyone develops PTSD. The diagnosis emerges in 5% of men and 10% of women, but rates are higher in specific populations, depending on the type and intensity of the trauma. Listed below is a list of stressful or traumatic events that one may face and can increase these rates: (Printable Version link at the bottom of this article)
Not everyone ends up with PTSD. Why? There are two obvious factors: The intensity, duration, and number of traumatic experiences and the person’s mental interpretation (meaning) of the experience.
SYMPTOMS ASSOCIATED WITH PTSD
Arousal Symptom: restless, sleepless, hyper-alert, unable to relax, jumpiness, difficulties concentrating. Arousal symptoms suggest a heightened physiological and psychological activation.
Intrusive Symptoms: mental “replays” and dreams in which the person sees, hears, feels, smells, tastes aspects of the event and has repeated bad dreams or nightmares. Sometimes replays feel real, vivid, and frightening.
Avoidance Symptoms: “shutting off one’s emotions”, avoiding reminders such as places, people, conversations, and stimuli, shutting oneself off from the world.
PTSD symptoms last beyond a month and can appear long after the original trauma. It can cause significant disruption and impairment to one’s
normal life pursuits, such as social, school, work, and home.
INTENSITY OF PTSD
Low intensity: Some distressing symptoms, memories, and disturbing dreams. They are distracted from home and work duties, but functions are maintained. The condition often resolves spontaneously.
Moderate intensity: This displays greater quantity and intensity of symptoms, impulsive intrusive images, greater effort in avoiding trauma stimuli, heightened arousal, restless, sleep difficulties, depression, loss of faith, and work production. There is a disruption in normal life activities, diminishing family life, parenting, and sexual activity. Professional help is usually required.
Severe intensity: This is a very serious stage. They usually have the inability to work or participate in almost anything. They will have nightmares, panic attacks, rage reactions, intense feelings of guilt, anxiety, depression, and powerful disturbing intrusive images. They are usually in spiritual despair with suicidal thoughts that may overwhelm that person. Many cognitive, physical, emotional, and spiritual symptoms may appear. Suicidal actions may increase. Professional help is required!
HELPFUL HINTS FOR PTSD
NEEDED SUPPORT FROM OTHERS
Most spouses don’t fully understand PTSD. They usually just want the symptoms to go away and for their spouse to get over what they are experiencing. It is imperative that a spouse is supportive, tries to understand, do not be in a quick hurry to “fix” things, support counseling efforts, and learn better communication skills. There are a number of different communication techniques, such as the speaker-listener technique and the awareness wheel that will get the spouse to communicate properly, as well for the other spouse to actually know and understand how their spouse is feeling and what they are going through. Regular communication fails to validate one’s experience. This is a journey for this individual. Some will recover quickly, while others may take a little longer.
Listed below are a few suggestions for spouses to consider in helping their spouse through this process of recovery:
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