Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and what it means today to our social, educational and medical communities has evolved from when it was first given a label. To address the ptsd definition and thoroughly discuss the question of what is ptsd requires fractionalization of the human psyche. The term ptsd first appeared in American conversations, magazines and media during and post the Vietnam War. Our servicemen endured tragedies and suffered catastrophic experiences unlike any veterans before, and when they returned home they could not always adjust and fit in with the apple pie and family. Some victims of post traumatic stress disorder are still living in wooded areas as homeless, still unable to cope with the America that exists today.
The three types of ptsd that are prevalent today as categorized by the National Institute of Health are:
1. Reliving trauma
- Flashbacks emotionally and mentally occur when the patient believes the trauma is repeating again.
- Panic due to memories of traumas
- Nightmares of the disastrous events
- Strong inappropriate reactions to anything reminding of the trauma
- Guilt over having survived
- You do not relate or care about anything or anyone
- Unable to remember significant traumatic events
- Not interested in surroundings or people
- Do not reveal your moods or thoughts
- Avoiding places, thoughts or people that remind you of the trauma
- Believing your future is over
3. Hyper arousal
- Hyper vigilance watching for threat and danger
- No concentration
- Become startled or frightened quickly
- Outbursts of uncontrolled anger
Medical researchers do not have the solution for the question why one person suffers ptsd following extreme trauma yet another does not. The answer may lie in the deepest recesses of each individual’s psychological and cerebral makeup. Ptsd treatment is varied dependent upon the medical facility. The Veterans Administration has devoted decades to the treatment of veterans suffering from ptsd, with a modicum of positive results. Unfortunately there have been more fails than successes.
PTSD Causes in Civilian Life
1. Violent Crime
Victims of hostage situations, kidnapping trauma and other violent attacks from which the patient was unable to escape or conquer their assailant leave lasting ptsd effects. Private institutions have devoted research to eliminating those causes from the civilian victim much in the same manner as the military efforts, minus the strict militaristic agenda. Some of the victims of kidnapping, hostage trauma and the violet devastation that usually is affected upon the individuals held helpless cannot cope with the outside world once they are freed, treated and released into their own homes again. The national media has broadcast lurid accounts of the tortures and suffering endured by many individuals who became the subject of horrible crimes. The media attention adds to the ptsd suffering of the victims, as it would appear they are sentenced to endure the obscene treatment of their captors repeatedly by the press and the media agents.
Hospitalization treatment and therapy are necessary tools in the treatment of civilian ptsd. In these incidents, the families and friends of the victim can contribute greatly to the recovery process as they reintroduce the patient back into their normal pre-trauma lifestyle.
2. Terrorism and Other Mass Disasters
The entire world now stands in emotional chains held in the grip of mass terrorism and bombings. The United States has suffered its emergence into the arena of being victim to senseless violence and brutality, as other countries also endure. Today it is not a nonchalant activity to plan a large event attendance or to schedule an air flight without the thought pressing down about possibilities of terrorist activities bringing destruction cascading upon ourselves and our families. The public is now very aware of the chance of being held at the point of someone’s arrows and bound with their explosives. After surviving such trauma, the survivors not only fear re;repetition but feel tremendous guilt gilt over being one of those who survived the devastation. The primary goal in such ptsd victim treatment is to erase their belief that they are in some part responsible for the hell they endured and the sufferings experienced by others.
3. Natural Tragedies and Volatile Disasters
The globe has been devastated by incredible flooding, volcanic eruptions, tornado swaths cutting across entire nations, and hurricanes and tsunamis obliterating entire islands and populations. Earthquakes now occur where they never were known to exist, implanting the fear into the entire world’s population that no place is safe from a natural disaster that will change their lives and even their countries forever. The opportunity for treatment for survivors in these national and international disasters is more complex, insofar as the rescue operations are paramount and no agenda can be approached for the survivors’ post traumatic stress disorder. All efforts and manpower must be placed in the rescue and recovery for the people buried alive and stranded in deplorable circumstances. The future will have to be relied upon to determine how and who of these victims are able to reconstitute their lives afterward without the personal devastation of ptsd.
4. Normal Emotional Responses to Trauma
- Shock, disbelief of what occurred
- Fear – that the trauma will happen again
- Sadness – for the maimed and dead
- Helplessness – unpredictable natural disasters leave you feeling helpless
- Guilt – that you survived
- Anger – you may be angry at God or others
- Shame – over uncontrolled fears
- Relief –you may feel relieved and even hopeful that your normal life will return
How to Cope and Begin Recovery From Disaster
1. Seek support and comfort
Traumatic events turn your world upside down and shatter your safety.
Be positive and ever most proactive! This will help you feel less vulnerable. Focus on anything enabling you to feel calm, centered, and in control.
2. Reestablish a routine
Return to your normal routine and minimize traumatic stress and hopelessness. You can live your day with regular eating, sleeping, time with family, and relaxing. Do things that keep occupied so you’re not focusing all attention to the trauma.
3. Connect with others
You may be tempted to withdraw from everything but it’s important to stay connected to people who care about you.
Remind yourself that you have strengths and coping skills that can get you through tough times.
Help others. Give blood. Volunteer help. Donate Where You Can
- Limit your media exposure to the disaster. Take a complete break if the coverage is damaging you.
- Avoid preoccupation with distressing clips. Read the newspaper or magazines instead of TV.
- Protect your children from reminders of the traumatic event
- After viewing disaster coverage, talk with your loved ones about the footage and your feelings
5. Dealing with Grief
- Take time to heal and mourn losses experienced.
- Don’t force healing.
- Be patient
- Be strong for volatile emotions.
- Permit no judgment or guilt.
- Talk to someone.
6. How sleep can reduce traumatic stress
Getting rest after disaster is essential, since lack of sleep places stress on your mind and body, and make it more difficult to maintain emotional balance. Avoid caffeine in afternoon or evening and get exercise earlier in the day.
7. When to seek help
Emotional reactions are common after a trauma, including all of the negative ones! Most will start to fade within a short time.However, if your reaction is so intense that it’s in the way of your ability to function, you need professional help from a mental health trauma specialist.
· Traumatic stress warning signs
- It’s been 6 weeks, but you are not better
- You’ are having trouble functioning
- You have terrifying memories, nightmares, or flashbacks
- You have an increasingly difficult time relating to people
- Suicidal thoughts
- You’re avoiding more and more things
8. How to Counsel Children
- Provide opportunities to talk . Let them talk over what they’re seeing on the media. Encourage them to ask questions. Make it clear that there are no bad feelings.
- If you don’t know answers for your child, don’t fabricate and worsen the situation!
- The trauma can bring up unrelated fears in children and you might not understand their chain of thinking. Acknowledge these, even if irrelevant.
- Monitor television. Limit exposure to graphic videos. Watch news reports of the disaster with your children
- Remember that children personalize events and may worry about their own safety or harm coming to some of their family, even if the traumatic event occurred far away or in another country.
- Watch for a child’s physical signs of stress. These can be wide and varied with each individual child. Upset tummy, imaginary hurts or insomnia can all be prevalent. Do not minimize, but file the symptoms away in your mind for future assessment.
In Your Home – Domestic Violence and PTSD
Johnny sees Daddy beat his family so grows up to do the same to his innocent and helpless family who love him. It is the most common form of ptsd in the family home today, and we do not seem to be making great strides toward eliminating it from American life. In fact, the psychological researchers blame the mass murders in schools and malls or the serial murderers as much on this ptsd of a child growing up to repeat the behavior and even worsen its objectives that was observed in the child’s home growing up. It is easily realized as a form of ptsd when a person reacts suddenly, without warning, to a seemingly small event in an extreme and maiming or killing manner. Marriage counseling, religious counseling and private practitioners have made inroads into this form of ptsd in an awesome feat of remedying violence in the home.
Bullying by other children on the playground or at school can also foster a boiling inner rage that will erupt when the child is annoyed ore irritated as an adult. The recent efforts of school facilities to enforce anti-bullying programs and to use psychological counseling within the classroom to prevent such bullying behavior will contribute more and more as we see the fruition of these programs.
Why Hospitals and Physicians Do Not Report and Treat PTSD in Civilians
One national study of patients with traumatic injuries reported more than 20 percent of them developed PTSD. Hospitals still have no system for identifying patients with PTSD or getting treatment for them.
The national study surveyed 21 top-level trauma centers in cities with high violence. The results report trauma surgeons see PTSD as a serious problem. Nonetheless, only one trauma center at the Interim LSU Public Hospital in New Orleans routinely screens all acutely injured patients for ptsd. Here is what surgeons and experts reveal as the reason civilians are not given ptsd treatment in their own home neighborhood:
1. It’s too expensive.
Hospitals simply cannot afford to put together programs for ptsd treatment of civilians. Outside funding is not readily available as an alternative.
2. Doctors say they don’t screen for PTSD because they don’t know if their patients can get treatment
For uninsured, finding treatment can be an “exercise in frustration,” ending with hospital staff “begging for favors from contacts and friends, to make sure the patient gets the care he or she needs.”