You may have heard it called PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) or you may have heard the newer term PTS (Post-Traumatic Stress) and wondered about the difference.
The website of NIMH (National Institute for Mental Health) says the following about PTSD:
When in danger, it’s natural to feel afraid. This fear triggers many split-second changes in the body to prepare to defend against the danger or to avoid it. This “fight-or-flight” response is a healthy reaction meant to protect a person from harm. But in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), this reaction is changed or damaged. People who have PTSD may feel stressed or frightened even when they’re no longer in danger.
PTSD develops after a terrifying ordeal that involved physical harm or the threat of physical harm. The person who develops PTSD may have been the one who was harmed, the harm may have happened to a loved one, or the person may have witnessed a harmful event that happened to loved ones or strangers.
PTSD was first brought to public attention in relation to war veterans, but it can result from a variety of traumatic incidents, such as mugging, rape, torture, being kidnapped or held captive, child abuse, car accidents, train wrecks, plane crashes, bombings, or natural disasters such as floods or earthquakes.
- flashbacks – intrusive thoughts, images or physical sensations that are reminiscent of the traumatic event
- bad dreams
- avoiding places and things that remind you of the event
- physical and/or emotional numbness
- being easily startled
- inability or difficulty recalling part or all of the traumatic event
- feeling estranged (detached) from others
- anhedonia – loss of enjoyment of things you used to enjoy
- difficulty falling or staying asleep
- irritability or angry outbursts
- difficulty concentrating
- hypervigilance (constantly scanning your environment)
Calling the issues created by exposure to a traumatic experience a disorder, pathologizes one’s reaction to an overwhelming and frightening situation. Instead, I suggest that the symptoms mentioned above are your body/mind’s appropriate and normal response to your loss of security, sense of safety and trust. These are normal reactions to abnormal events.
I can help you with work through these issues and regain control of your life.
To learn more about how I can help you or to make an appointment, call me at (303) 444-2003.