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Click on Miles to learn about PTSD

Click here to see a PTSD video starring my dogs.

PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder)
 
What is PTSD?
 
PTDS is an anxiety disorder that some people get after seeing or living through a dangerous event. When in danger it is completely normal to feel afraid. This fear triggers many normal split second changes in the body to prepare against the danger or to avoid it. This "fight-or-flight" response is a healthy reaction meant to protect a person from any harm. But when someone has PTSD, this reaction is changed or damaged. People who have PTSD may feel stressed or frightened even when they are no longer in danger.
 
Who gets PTSD?
 
Anyone can get PTSD at any age. This includes war veterans and survivors of physical and sexual assault, abuse, accidents, disasters, and many other serious events.  Not everyone with PTSD has been through a dangerous event. Some people get it after a friend or family member experiences danger or is harmed. Some develop PTSD after a sudden, unexpected death of a loved one. 
 
 
What are the symptoms of PTSD?
 
PTSD can cause many symptoms. These symptoms can be grouped into three categories:
 
1. Re-experiencing symptoms:
  • Flashbacks (reliving the trauma over and over, including physical symptoms like a racing heart or sweating)
  • Bad dreams or nightmares
  • Frightening thoughts     

2.  Avoidance Symptoms:

  • Staying away from places, events, or objects that are reminders of the experience
  • Feeling emotionally numb
  • Feeling strong guilt, depression or worry
  • Losing interest in activities that were enjoyable in the past
  • Having trouble remembering the dangerous event        

 Things that remind a person of the traumatic event can trigger avoidance symptoms. These symptoms may cause a person to change his or her personal routine. For example, after a bad car crash, a person who usually drives may want to avoid driving or even riding in a car.

3.  Hyperarousal symptoms:

  •  Being easily startled
  • Feeling tense or "on edge"
  • Having difficulty sleeping, and/or having angry outbursts                                                                                                                                                                                                                         
    Hyperarousal symptoms are usually constant, instead of being triggered by things that remind one of the traumatic event. They can make the person feel stressed and angry. These symptoms may make it hard to do daily tasks, such as sleeping, eating or concentrating.
    It is natural to have some of these symptoms after any dangerous event. Sometimes people have very serious symptoms that go away after a few weeks. This is called acute stress disorder, or ASD. When the symptoms last for more than a few weeks and become an ongoing problem, they might by PTSD. Some with PTSD don't show any symptoms for weeks or even months. 

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Do children react differently than adults?

 Children and teens have extreme reactions to trauma, but their symptoms may not be the same as adults. In very young children, these symptoms may include:

  • Bed-wetting, when they already learned how to use the toilet before
  • Forgetting how or being unable to talk
  • Acting out the scary event during playtime (many children who watched the twin towers falling down on television, often repeatedly, had later been seen playing with toy planes and making them crash into Lego or block towers). A side note: many young children who kept seeing the towers falling down on television played over and over for days, thought that many towers had come down and felt tremendously scared. It helps to have children and teens avoid excess media coverage after a disaster or tragic event. 
  • Being unusually clingy with a parent or other adult   

Older children and teens usually show signs similar to adults. They may display disruptive, disrespectful, or destructive behaviors. Older children and teens may feel guilty for not preventing injury or deaths. They may also have thoughts of revenge. 

 

 Why do some people get PTSD and others don't?

Not everyone who lives through a dangerous event will get PTSD. In fact, most will not get the disorder.

Many factors play a part in whether a person will develop PTSD or not. Some of these factors are risk factors that may increase the chances of a person getting it. Other factors, resilience factors, help a person reduce the risk of getting the disorder. Some of both factors are present before the trauma and others become important during and after a traumatic event.

 

Risk Factors for PTSD include:

 

  • Living through dangerous events or traumas
  • Having a history of mental illness
  • Getting hurt
  • Seeing people hurt or killed
  • Feeling horror, helplessness or extreme fear
  • Having little or no social support after the event
  • Dealing with extra stress after the event, such as loss of a loved one, pain and injury, or loss of a job or home 
  •                                                   
  • Resilience Factors that may reduce the risk of PTSD include:  
  • Seeking out support from other people, such as friends and family
  • Finding a support group after a traumatic event
  • Feeling good about one's own actions in the face of danger
  • Having a coping strategy or a way of getting through the bad event and learning from it
  • Being able to act and respond effectively despite feeling fear
Researchers are studying the importance of various risk factors and resilience factors. With more study, it may be possible someday to predict who is likely to get PTSD and prevent it. 

 

For more info on PTSD:
 

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