June 17, 2013

PTSD Awareness

PTSD and YOU: Understanding Post Traumatic Stress Disorder  

Living so close to Fort Drum, most of us have heard of  PTSD.  We’re aware of the serious problems PTSD has caused for families and individuals but we may not be clear about what it is.  June is PTSD Awareness Month and so today we’re going to: Explain what Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is, its common symptoms, common misconceptions  and what’s new about our understanding and treatment.    

  1. PTSD is a psychological disorder which results from exposure ( experience or witness) to physical or psychological trauma.

People with PTSD experience three different kinds of symptoms.   --The first set of symptoms involves reliving the trauma in some way such as becoming upset when confronted with a traumatic reminder or thinking about the trauma when you are trying to do something else.    --The second set of symptoms involves either staying away from places or people that remind you of the trauma, isolating from other people, or feeling numb.  --The third set of symptoms includes things such as feeling on guard, irritable,  startling easily and panic.

It is important to remember that anyone exposed to serious trauma will develop an adjustment disorder which involves anxiety, depressed moods and some behavioral changes.  PTSD is on the severe side of a continuum of a psychological disorder 100% of us experience some time in our lives: Adjustment disorder. Serious trauma causes disruption of our feelings, thoughts and behaviors.   Most survivors of trauma return to normal given a little time. However, some people will have stress reactions that do not go away on their own, or may even get worse over time and require professional treatment.  

     2. A common misconception about PTSD is that Sometimes folks think that only combat soldiers or   victims of sexual molestation or assault can get PTSD. We need to realize that trauma has more sources than violence and we need to expand our understanding of those who are at risk. Police, firefighters, first responders and anyone who experiences natural disasters such as flood tornadoes earthquakes, car accidents etc. as well acts of terrorism is vulnerable to developing PTSD.  

3. New research and high-tech imaging  has increased our precise knowledge of what PTSD is and  PET scans are actually providing visual evidence of is brain damage caused by trauma as well as healing that occurs as a result of treatment. Specifically the area known as the hippocampus shrinks under severe trauma and grows back with talk therapies.

4. New treatment -- PTSD has a mobile app (PE Coach) which works in conjunction with therapy to help patients stay connected to their treatments and progress in working their healing programs.  

5. For more information go to: http://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/USVHA/bulletins/7e40b3

Rev. Michael Heath prepared these remarks for Bridge Street, 6 17 2013  www.revmichaelheath.com/

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