Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a complicated bundle of over-lapping mental, emotional, physical and relationship challenges resulting from experiencing 1) a single, terribly stressful event or, 2) multiple repeated traumas occurring over a period of time. Further complicating matters is the fact that PTSD is a form of Anxiety Disorder itself, which often leads to additional Anxiety Disorders. Officially. there are two primary types of PTSD: simple PTSD and complex PTSD.

Simple PTSD

Simple PTSD is the result of someone experiencing a single traumatic event. For example, being involved in an auto collision, seeing your house destroyed by a tornado, being a victim of a violent assault or rape, witnessing a school shooting, having your parents get divorced or the death of a loved one.

The symptoms of simple PTSD can range between mild and fairly simple to very serious and very complicated. Every person suffering form either type of PTSD exhibits some degree of three core symptoms of intrusive thoughts, avoidance and hyperarousal.

Complex PTSD

Complex PTSD is the result of someone suffering repeated traumas over a period of time from the same person or group. For example, a child being abused physically or sexually, or experiencing extreme neglect, a person witnessing the horrors of war upon their family, city or country, long-term physical abuse by a spouse or partner, or witnessing neighborhood gang shootings.

The symptoms and effects for complex PTSD are likewise different, and often much greater than for simple PTSD as are their duration. Consequently, complex PTSD is further classified as: acute Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, having symptoms lasting up to three months; chronic Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, having symptoms lasting more than three months and being the most common category; and finally, the delayed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, having delayed symptoms starting six months or more after the traumatic event, primarily seen in war veterans and in adults that were abused as children.

No Two PTSDs Alike

PTSD can affect anyone at any age. However, since no two people are exactly the same, two people experiencing the same exact trauma at the same moment could have entirely different results. One will simply shrug off the event as a minor inconvenience and the other will suffer long-term psychological turmoil. A long list of factors can affect how someone responds to a traumatic event, including the nature of the event itself. The ages and gender of the person, genetics, ethnicity, life experiences, marital status and even the structure of the brain may play a role. Studies show that even identical twins may have different results. Studies of combat veterans who experienced the same traumatic horror of war can also have different results.

Children with PTSD

Children and teens with PTSD will experience results quite different from adults, making their symptoms harder to identify. Children of parents with PTSD can actually take on the same symptoms as the affected parent despite never experiencing the trauma. Small children living with a parent suffering with PTSD can believe that somehow it was their fault and become depressed and withdrawn, with feelings of guilt and require special attention. The subject of PTSD and children is quite complex and has its own page.

Women with PTSD

Women suffer with PTSD at nearly twice the rate of men. Perhaps this is partially due to women being smaller, weaker and willing to seek help while men turn to drugs, alcohol or just try to tough it out. Women are also much more vulnerable to physical and verbal attack, with violent rape being most traumatic. Mothers will also suffer with PTSD more deeply than men when one of their children is severely injured or diagnosed with a serious illness.

Each Traumatic Event Unique

Every traumatic event is as different as the individuals who experience the trauma and could be analyzed separately for its potential effect. For example, a small fender bender is quite different than a bus loaded with people being hit by a tractor-trailer rig. An event that causes serious injury or death will have a bigger emotional impact than one less serious. An event involving you or a family member could cause large long-term emotional scars. A violent rape of a wife or daughter would understandably cause deeper PTSD symptoms than a violent attack on your neighbor’s wife or daughter. The annual rising flood water filling your basement with muddy water won’t have the same impact emotionally as seeing your home turned into tooth-picks by a sudden tornado. 

10% PTSD in Military

Our men and women in the military endure unimaginable trauma, with as many as ten percent returning with some form of PTSD that may inflict suffering for many years. Veterans with PTSD have a plate full of difficulties trying to piece their lives and futures back together. Unfortunately, many turn to drugs and alcohol to ease their pain while fighting for disability benefits.

Suffering in Silence

Millions of people have been diagnosed with some form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and millions more go through life suffering in silence, unaware they have a serious problem or unwilling or afraid to seek help. Getting treatment is crucial because PTSD does not generally go away by itself. Complex PTSD often leads to severe problems, broken relationships and dangerous self-destructive behaviors.

If you have a friend or family member suffering with PTSD symptoms, have them see a physician first to rule out possible medical problems. Sharing their fears and feelings with a doctor is difficult and can trigger painful flashback horror. It is important to make the decision to seek help. The sooner the better.

This report is not a diagnosis. We hope this information can guide you toward improving your life.

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