Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

 

By definition, trauma is the Greek word for "wound." It is defined by the American Psychological Association as "the emotional response someone has to an extremely negative event. Trauma is how the mind responds to mental injury, and no two people respond in the same manner. What we do know is that the main sources of trauma can be (but no limited to):

 

* Robbery at gunpoint

* Domestic violence

*Physical, Emotional, and/or Sexual Abuse

* Natural Disasters

* Severe injury

* Witnessing an act of violence

 

Trauma sets in motion biochemical processes in the brain, such as rapid release of adrenaline and cortisol (stress hormone), as well as increased heart rate - all which contribute to a sense of "fight or flight or freeze."

 

People who have endured traumatic events will often appear shaken or disoriented. They may not respond to conversation as they normally would and will often appear withdrawn or not present even when speaking.

 

Anxiety is a hallmark symptom of trauma, and can manifest in problems such as night terrors, edginess, irritability, poor concentration and mood swings. Additionally PTSD victims often suffer nightmares, flashbacks, and an extreme startle reaction. While these symptoms of trauma are common, they are not exhaustive. Sometimes trauma is unnoticeable, even to the victim's closest friends and family.

Because of the after effects of trauma it is extremely important to talk to someone even if they show no signs of disturbance. Trauma symptoms can manifest days, weeks, and months after the event. Research has shown that by doing so the possibility of long term after effects are significantly reduced.

 

When depression and anxiety from trauma become too much to cope with through normal means, many trauma victims turn to substance abuse. Victims are more likely to develop addictions than other members of the general population.

 

Two other factors affect the trajectory of healing from trauma.

 

            1. Stacking one trauma on top of another has a deleterious effect on healing, and therapy in these situations is of paramount importance.  

 

            2. The trauma experienced during a disaster is important, but ongoing ripples from the event itself, such as financial stress, displacement, or other burdens - adds another component that predicts overall well-being in the long-term.

 

The longer the trauma symptoms exist, the more difficult they will be to resolve and to treat. After the Vietnam War, psychological studies of soldiers suffering from the after- effects of battlefield trauma, led to the identifying of  the PTSD syndrome and it's symptoms including depression, anxiety, flashbacks, and nightmares brought on by a "trigger" (such as fireworks or pop of a balloon).

 

Now imagine a child who has suffered various traumas trying to cope in a world then becoming an adult while not knowing the basis of his or her depression or nightmares. Mental Health professional have huge caseloads of people needing help to overcome trauma. If you know of anyone or are a person with past trauma and any of the aforesaid symptoms please be advised there is help.

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