Symptoms Of Ptsd In Veterans
While you can develop symptoms of PTSD in the hours or days following a traumatic event, sometimes symptoms dont surface for months or even years after you return from deployment. While PTSD develops differently in each veteran, there are four symptom clusters:
Suicide prevention in veterans with PTSD
Its common for veterans with PTSD to experience suicidal thoughts. Feeling suicidal is not a character defect, and it doesnt mean that you are crazy, weak, or flawed.
Tip : Reach Out To Others For Support
PTSD can make you feel disconnected from others. You may be tempted to withdraw from social activities and your loved ones. But its important to stay connected to life and the people who care about you. You dont have to talk about the trauma if you dont want to, but the caring support and companionship of others is vital to your recovery. Reach out to someone you can connect with for an uninterrupted period of time, someone who will listen when you want to talk without judging, criticizing, or continually getting distracted. That person may be your significant other, a family member, a friend, or a professional therapist. Or you could try:
Volunteering your time or reaching out to a friend in need. This is not only a great way to connect to others, but can also help you reclaim your sense of control.
Joining a PTSD support group. This can help you feel less isolated and alone and also provide invaluable information on how to cope with symptoms and work towards recovery.
How Is Ptsd Treated
Professional treatment can help you feel better, says Dr. Wimbiscus. And while medications can play a role in treating the disorder, she says the gold-standard treatment is trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy, or TF-CBT, and sometimes another variation of this type of therapy called EMDR .
This type of therapy helps you reframe your memories of the trauma and learn new ways to manage those thoughts and feelings. A big part of managing PTSD is having a skilled mental health professional working alongside you, Dr. Wimbiscus says.
Heres the ugly truth: That treatment isnt easy it might dig up memories or emotions youd rather keep buried. And for all that effort, you may not feel like youre making much progress. And you might have to meet with your therapist a few times before you can get into the real work of treating PTSD.
Having patience for that process is easier said than done. But your hard work will be worth it when you come out on the other side, with fewer symptoms and better tools to manage your anxiety.
Some people with PTSD will notice their symptoms fade in a matter of months. For others, healing takes longer. You may feel frustrated that you cant speed up the process.
Managing Trauma With Betterhelp
There is a large body of research showing that online therapy can be a valuable component of a treatment plan when addressing symptoms of trauma. For example, in a study published by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, researchers found that online cognitive-behavioral therapy was an effective means of decreasing symptoms of PTSD. The study makes note of the small percentage of individuals living with PTSD who seek treatment, compared to those who do not or cannot due to various obstaclesincluding costs, lack of access, and stigma. Online interventions can eliminate these barriers. Online cognitive-behavioral therapy works by helping individuals to reframe negative thought patterns that may be underlying unwanted emotions and behaviors, such as depression or anxiety arising out of trauma, so that individuals can understand triggering situations and how to manage them.
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Prevalence And Symptoms Of Ptsd
According to the National Center for PTSD, approximately 7-8% of people in the U.S. will develop PTSD during their life10% of women and 4% of men. To be diagnosed with this condition, a person will have symptoms that include several of these:
- Recurrent and distressing memories or dreams of the traumatic event
- Prolonged or noticeable psychological and/or physiological reactions to cues resembling the experience
- Flashbacks of the event or emotional/psychological dissociation when triggered
- Avoidance of thoughts, feelings, people, places, or any reminders of what happened
- Difficulty remembering details of the event
- Changes in mood, memory, or thinking patterns
- Hypervigilance, sleep problems, anger outbursts, or self-destructive behavior
While all these symptoms can cause significant impairment, some are more challenging to manage than others. This is largely due to the amygdala, a structure deep in the brain that is best known for our fight or flight response. When in danger, the amygdala assigns an emotional tag to any experience that could be life-threatening, and its function is automatically prioritized over other areas of the brain, including those that govern reasoning and memory.
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Tip : Find Healthier Ways To Express Your Anger
If youve decided that the situation is worth getting angry about and theres something you can do to make it better, the key is to express your feelings in a healthy way. Learning how to resolve conflict in a positive way will help you strengthen your relationships rather than damaging them.
Always fight fair. Its okay to be upset at someone, but if you dont fight fair, the relationship will quickly break down. Fighting fair allows you to express your own needs while still respecting others.
Make the relationship your priority. Maintaining and strengthening the relationship, rather than winning the argument, should always be your first priority. Respect the other person and their viewpoint.
Focus on the present. Once you are in the heat of arguing, its easy to start throwing past grievances into the mix. Rather than looking to the past and assigning blame, focus on what you can do in the present to solve the problem.
Be willing to forgive. Resolving conflict is impossible if youre unwilling or unable to forgive. Resolution lies in releasing the urge to punish, which can never compensate for our losses and only adds to our injury by further depleting and draining our lives.
Take five if things get too heated. If your anger starts to spiral out of control, remove yourself from the situation for a few minutes or for as long as it takes you to cool down.
Grounding To Offset A Ptsd Episode
Although they come on quickly, a person will usually have a little bit of warning prior to the flashback or dissociation. They may feel they are losing their connection to reality or things may start to look blurry. One method for not completely losing touch with reality is through a technique known as grounding, which is similar to mindfulness.
Just as it sounds, grounding can help a person stay present so that they recognize their oncoming PTSD symptoms for what they are. This technique involves strategies such as these:
- Engaging each of the senses by identifying things in the immediate environment they can see, smell, touch, taste, and hear
- Moving aroundwhether by walking, running, or jumpingto help disrupt the bodys stress response
- Breathing deeply and slowly to help calm themselves
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Practice Mindfulness Meditation And Yoga
Research has shown us that a routine practice of mindfulness meditation and yoga can help to significantly lessen symptoms of anxiety, depression, and restlessness related to PTSD. Mindful meditation involves focusing your attention on your breath and witnessing your thoughts as they develop.
Through regular meditation and developed yoga practice, you can learn to recognize your thoughts before they take hold of your emotions. Then, you can learn to focus on your breathing and replace negative thoughts with healthier, more beneficial ones.
Take Care Of Yourself
When youre working to support a friend with PTSD, it can be difficult to set boundaries and protect your well-being. Always remember to take time for yourself, as challenging as it can be. Develop coping mechanisms, healthy ways of dealing with stress and take time each day to do what bring you joy.
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How Long Does Ptsd Last For
The course of the illness will vary from person to person, and event to event. Some people recover within six months, while others have symptoms that last much longer, and PTSD can become chronic.
As with most mental illness, PTSD is intensely personal and no two cases are the same.
The length of time a person can experience post-traumatic stress disorder varies, says Dr Kriegeskotten.
When PTSD is not treated, it can last a very long time, perhaps a lifetime. For others, the symptoms can fade over time, but increase again on an anniversary or at a triggering time in their life.
Ptsd In Military Veterans
For all too many veterans, returning from military service means coping with symptoms of PTSD. You may have a hard time readjusting to life out of the military. Or you may constantly feel on edge, emotionally numb and disconnected, or close to panicking or exploding. But its important to know that youre not alone and there are plenty of ways you can deal with nightmares and flashbacks, cope with feelings of depression, anxiety or guilt, and regain your sense of control.
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What Do I Do If I Feel A Panic Attack Coming
As soon as you feel the first signs of a panic attack such as a higher-than-normal heartbeat try to de-escalate it by breathing deeply, and thinking of calming things. Ask family and friends to help you to deal with these initial stages, by distracting and soothing you too.
Here are some other examples of things people to do help panic attacks from occurring, or to help defuse them once they begin:
Negative Thought Patterns That Can Trigger Anger
You may think that external factorsthe insensitive actions of other people, for example, or frustrating situationsare causing your anger. But anger problems have less to do with what happens to you than how you interpret and think about what happened.
Common negative thinking patterns that trigger and fuel anger include:
- Overgeneralizing. For example, You ALWAYS interrupt me. You NEVER consider my needs. EVERYONE disrespects me. I NEVER get the credit I deserve.
- Obsessing over shoulds and musts. Having a rigid view of the way a situation should or must go and getting angry when reality doesnt line up with this vision.
- Mind reading and jumping to conclusions. Assuming you know what someone else is thinking or feelingthat they intentionally upset you, ignored your wishes, or disrespected you.
- Collecting straws. Looking for things to get upset about, usually while overlooking or blowing past anything positive. Letting these small irritations build and build until you reach the final straw and explode, often over something relatively minor.
- Blaming. When anything bad happens or something goes wrong, its always someone elses fault. You tell yourself, lifes not fair, or blame others for your problems rather than taking responsibility for your own life.
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How Do Children And Teens React To Trauma
Children and teens can have extreme reactions to trauma, but their symptoms may not be the same as those seen in adults. In young children under the age of 6, symptoms can include:
- Wetting the bed after having learned to use the toilet
- Forgetting how or being unable to talk
- Acting out the scary event during playtime
- Being unusually clingy with a parent or other adult
Older children and teens usually show symptoms more like those seen in adults. They also may develop disruptive, disrespectful, or destructive behaviors. Older children and teens may feel guilty for not preventing injury or deaths. They also may have thoughts of revenge.
For more information, see the National Institute of Mental Health brochure, Helping Children and Adolescents Cope With Disasters and Other Traumatic Events.
How To Help Someone With Ptsd
Contributed by Christine Binney
Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is a mental health problem that can occur after a traumatic event. It can be hard for people to know how to help someone with PTSD because it is impossible to relate to their experience. If you have a friend or family member who is suffering from PTSD, you know how difficult it is to see your loved ones behavior change. Its important to remember that the person suffering from PTSD doesnt always have control over their behavior, so you should not take their actions personally. While it is a hard journey for all involved, there are ways that you can help get life back to the way it was before the trauma. Here is a short guide on how to help someone with PTSD.
Understand the inner workings of PTSD
Understanding PTSD is the first step towards helping someone recover. PTSD is caused by harrowing ordeals such as a physical assault, sexual violence, a natural disaster, war, an accident or the death of a loved one. When a person is threatened with or suffers serious physical harm or violence, they will experience intense fear, helplessness and terror.
Learn the symptoms
Offer social support
Create a sense of safety
Have a plan in place
Remain calm during emotional outbursts
Encourage professional treatment
Take care of yourself
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What Should I Know About Participating In Clinical Research
Clinical trials are research studies that look at new ways to prevent, detect, or treat diseases and conditions. Although individuals may benefit from being part of a clinical trial, participants should be aware that the primary purpose of a clinical trial is to gain new scientific knowledge so that others may be better helped in the future.
Researchers at NIMH and around the country conduct many studies with patients and healthy volunteers. Talk to your health care provider about clinical trials, their benefits and risks, and whether one is right for you. For more information, visit NIMH’s clinical trials webpage.
Why Do Some People Develop Ptsd And Other People Do Not
Not everyone who lives through a dangerous event develops PTSDmany factors play a part. Some of these factors are present before the trauma others become important during and after a traumatic event.
Risk factors that may increase the likelihood of developing of PTSD include:
- Exposure to dangerous events or traumas
- Getting hurt or seeing people hurt or killed
- Childhood trauma
- 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
- Having a personal history or family history of mental illness or substance use
Resilience factors that may reduce the likelihood of developing PTSD include:
- Seeking out support from friends, family, or support groups
- Learning to feel okay with ones actions in response to a traumatic event
- Having a coping strategy for getting through and learning from a traumatic event
- Being prepared and able to respond to upsetting events as they occur, despite feeling fear
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Avoid Consuming Too Much Media About The Event
After experiencing a traumatic event, it can be tempting to watch or read lots of things about it on social media or in the news. This is especially the case for higher profile events like terrorist attacks or natural disasters. However, it is best to avoid watching, listening to or reading lots of media related to the event, especially if when you do so it causes you distress.
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Tips To Get Out Of A Ptsd Episode
Traumatic events can have a lasting impact on your mental health. If you’ve experienced a violent assault or a serious accident, or if you’ve been involved in active combat, you may have an ongoing emotional response for days or even weeks. But if you’ve been haunted by trauma for months or years, you may have a condition called post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.
Traumatic events can have a lasting impact on your mental health. If youve experienced a violent assault or a serious accident, or if youve been involved in active combat, you may have an ongoing emotional response for days or even weeks. But if youve been haunted by trauma for months or years, you may have a condition called post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.PTSD is distinguished from other forms of anxiety by episodes, which are delayed stress reactions to the trauma you experienced in your past. These episodes are frightening when they occur but, with proper treatment, they can be effectively controlled.