10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About PTSD

 

Learn these facts about PTSD (photo credit: BigStickPhoto.com)

Learn these facts about PTSD (photo credit: BigStickPhoto.com)

1.     It Isn’t Just for Veterans

While much of the press coverage about PTSD relates to veterans of various wars, anyone who experiences a traumatic event can suffer from PTSD.  Knowing the signs and seeking help are the most important things parents can do to help if they believe their teenager is dealing with PTSD.

2.     It Doesn’t Always Mean Having Flashbacks

While flashbacks are one of the symptoms most commonly associated with PTSD, it isn’t the only symptom and some people with the condition never experience this symptom at all.  There are three different types of symptoms that can affect those with PTSD.  Intrusive thoughts and/or emotions are one of those types and it includes flashbacks and nightmares.

3.     It Can Make it Hard to Do Things You Love

Another type of symptom is called avoidance or numbing symptoms.  This type can include avoiding people, locations, or situations that serve as a reminder of the traumatic event.  It also includes emotional detachment and memory blocking.

4.     It Can Make you Jumpy

The third type of symptom is called hyper-arousal symptoms which includes things like being jumpy, easily startled, and having panic attacks.  Hyper-arousal can also make people feel very on edge all the time as if they have to be on high alert at all times.

5.     It Can Cause Aches and Pains

In addition to the PTSD-specific symptoms listed above, this disorder can also cause other less-specific symptoms like unexplained aches and pains, difficulty sleeping, and being moody or irritable.

6.     It Can Cause Depression

PTSD can cause or co-exist with other mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and substance abuse problems.  It is important to have all mental health problems diagnosed and treated as treating one and not another can result in relapses, set-backs, and lack of progress.

7.     Gratitude Can Help

One strategy that those with this disorder can use to alleviate acute symptoms is to focus on finding three things in their life that they are grateful for.  The purpose is to shift the focus from the anxiety or stress of the trauma to the positive thoughts related to gratitude which can help keep symptoms from intensifying.

8.     Distractions Can Help

Making the conscious choice to do something to take the mind off of the event and the resulting symptoms can also help mitigate acute symptoms.  Reading a book, listening to or playing music, working in a garden, or any pleasant activity can also help keep symptoms from intensifying and getting out of control.

9.     Exercise Can Help

Running, hiking, or doing any kind of vigorous exercise can also help alleviate acute PTSD symptoms.  Try for 20-30 minutes of vigorous exercise while maintaining mental focus on what it happening right now.  This can keep the mind from straying into unhelpful territory.

10.  Anchors Can Help

Those with PTSD can also use something called an anchor to calm themselves down and keep symptoms from intensifying if they are triggered.  Anchors are often a physical object like a ring, a stone, or a picture that offers a reminder of a happy time, place, or event.

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