POST Traumatic Stress Disorder is a reality, is more common than we think , and crosses all boundaries: meaning it is unselective as to who would get affected by it.
The stigma that is attached to most if not all mental or psychological illnesses is such that, we often try to hide, are embarrassed to admit and seek help. It is in recognizing the symptoms and the realization that help is needed and is available, that may spell the difference , between healing , and worsening of the condition.
PTSD occurs after a traumatic event in one’s life: it may be as a direct participant or merely as an observer. The experience may vary from person to person: one event may precipitate a PTSD to one, but not to another.
Most of these traumatic experiences may involve loss of a loved one, casualties in cases of war, natural calamities like being victims of flooding ( Sendong Tragedy ), of earthquakes( as is present in Negros Oriental now ) , volcanic eruptions, and even the loss of one’s source of livelihood.
Among women, the most common cause would be either rape or domestic violence. Children are not exempt from experiencing PTSD. For most of us, a traumatic experience is something that can be viewed with some degree of sadness and a passing feeling of helplessness.
But in PTSD, the helplessness is coupled with hopelessness , such that it overwhelms the person and these feelings may last for more than 30 day. I believe that there are still Kagayanons out there who still are suffering from PTSD, after the Sendong Tragedy, which is 60 days past already.
It is often said that just being female makes one more at risk of developing PTSD. Although, it is difficult and kind of impossible really to predict who will develop PTSD, the presence of a history of previous traumatic event in one’s life, like depression, anxiety and other psychological illnesses , may make one prone to experiencing PTSD.
Symptoms of the illness vary, and it may be in the form of trouble in sleeping, recurring dreams, nightmares, fear, or even detachment. Irritability, anger, emotional outbursts can likewise be manifestations of PTSD.
One friend says that, each time the rains come, her fear is such that she would start packing her things! Children and adolescents may have similar manifestations as that with adults. I recall an incident shared by a social worker when during their psychosocial debriefing she mentioned to the children “ river “ and immediately they ran for cover!
Once PTSD is suspect, seeking professional help is highly recommended. The sooner the illness is confronted, a favorable outcome is more likely.
One cannot escape one’s emotions completely, and if untreated, each time another stressor comes, it will further compound the existing problem, thereby making the condition worse and more difficult to treat. It will not just affect the person with PTSD, but, it can impact one’s relationships and affect family, friends and even work.
Treatment may include desensitization, which means relieving the events and symptoms, thus, making you regain control of your feelings and life. Family support is very important and will play a crucial role. In cases where this type of treatment fails, our Psychiatrist friends may opt to use medications or Pharmaco-therapy to aid in managing PTSD. Healing may take time, but, it can happen. There is always hope and remember, life is beautiful!