Jun 16, 2024

Understanding PTSD and How to Support Those Affected

Healthy Living.

Have you ever faced a life-threatening situation, been the victim of a traumatic event, or witnessed such events happening to others? For many, the answer is “yes.” More than half of adults will encounter a traumatic event in their lifetime; these may come from a variety of incidents. In the immediate aftermath of trauma, it is normal to feel overwhelmed and hyper-alert. While most people recover, some may experience longer-term emotional difficulties. In fact, 8 out of every 100 people will be diagnosed with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) at some point in their lives.

Forty years ago, experts coined the term PTSD to describe the prolonged and troubling symptoms following a traumatic event. Recently, PTSD has been reclassified from an Anxiety Disorder to its own category of Trauma-Related Disorders. This change acknowledges that PTSD encompasses more than just a fear response. It includes a complex set of symptoms such as mood changes, feelings of sadness and guilt, and behavioral changes like reckless, impulsive, or angry behavior.

If you are wondering whether you have PTSD, the only way to know for sure is to consult a mental health care provider. Even if it is not full-blown PTSD, therapy can help you cope with troubling thoughts and feelings following difficult life experiences. The Primary Care PTSD Checklist (below) is a 5-item screen for PTSD. There are many proven treatment options, including psychotherapy and medications. However, many people suffering from PTSD do not engage in therapy due to various reasons, such as beliefs about seeking help, stigma, and shame. Additionally, wanting to avoid talking or thinking about the trauma is one of the symptoms of PTSD.

No one can erase a painful memory or experience, but getting the right treatment can lead to a better life for both the person and their family affected by PTSD. As we work to raise awareness this month, here are some things you can do to help a loved one who might be suffering from PTSD:

  • Recognize PTSD as an Invisible Wound: Avoid using language that might make them feel as though you think they are crazy for their reaction.
  • Discuss the Benefits of Therapy: If they are unsure about seeking help, talk about the benefits of therapy and how it can aid in their recovery.
  • Choose the Right Time to Talk: Pick a calm moment to discuss your concerns. Never suggest seeking help in the middle of an argument or heated conversation.
  • Take Care of Yourself: Living with someone who has PTSD can be stressful at times. Set boundaries and ensure you have a strong support system. The best way to encourage someone else is to model self-care.

If you suspect you or someone you know may have PTSD, reaching out to a mental health professional is a crucial first step. At Crisp Regional Hospital, we are here to provide support and resources to help manage PTSD and improve the quality of life for those affected.

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