Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

PTSD is a complex disorder which is often associated with soldiers returning from combat, but it is something which is very common with people who have suffered traumatic events in their lives.  It can occur at any time after the event or series of events with the person affected often having flashbacks or nightmares.  Symptoms may surface at the time, months or even years later.  PTSD is treatable with the correct help and support.

Symptoms of PTSD vary from person to person and may severely impact on the ability to lead a normal life.  Some of the most common symptoms are listed below…

Reliving the original trauma or event as if it is happening nowPTSD final

Flashbacks

Disturbed sleep, nightmares

Intrusive thoughts

Irritability

Inability to concentrate

Feelings of distress and anxiety

Panic attacks

Nervousness and feeling on edge

Physical symptoms – such as pain, nausea, sweating or trembling

Some people have difficulty quelling the constant stream of negative thoughts resulting in a continuum of questioning oneself, thus negating an ability to come to terms with the past.

It is estimated that one in three people who have suffered trauma will develop some form of PTSD.

Complex PTSD 

The US Department of Veterans Affairs has stated that Dr Judith Herman of Harvard University suggested that a new diagnosis, Complex PTSD, is needed to describe the symptoms of long-term trauma.  It may not develop for years and can cause similar symptoms to PTSD.

Cases that involve prolonged, repeated trauma may indicate a need for special treatment considerations.

What types of trauma are associated with Complex PTSD? 

During long-term traumas, the victim is generally held in a state of captivity, physically or emotionally, according to Dr. Herman.  In these situations the victim is under the control of the perpetrator and unable to get away from the danger.

What additional symptoms are seen in Complex PTSD?

An individual who experienced a prolonged period (months to years) of chronic victimization and total control by another may also experience the following difficulties:

  • Emotional Regulation: may include persistent sadness, suicidal thoughts, explosive anger or inhibited anger.
  • Consciousness:  Includes forgetting traumatic events, reliving traumatic events, or having episodes in which one feels detached from one’s mental processes or body (dissociation). Distorted Perceptions of the Perpetrator. Examples include attributing total power to the perpetrator, becoming preoccupied with the relationship to the perpetrator, or preoccupied with revenge.
  • Self Perception: May include helplessness, shame, guilt, stigma and a sense of being completely different from other human beings.
  • Distorted Perceptions of the Perpetrator: Examples include attributing total power to the perpetrator, becoming preoccupied with the relationship to the perpetrator or preoccupied with revenge.
  • Relations with Others: Examples include isolation, distrust, or a repeated search for a rescuer.
  • One’s System of Meanings: May include a loss of sustaining faith or a sense of hopelessness and despair.

What other difficulties are faced by those who experienced chronic trauma?

Because people who experience chronic trauma often have additional symptoms not included in the PTSD diagnosis, clinicians may misdiagnose PTSD or only diagnose a personality disorder consistent with some symptoms, such as Borderline, Dependent, or Masochistic Personality Disorder.

Care should be taken during assessment to understand whether symptoms are characteristic of PTSD or if the survivor has co-occurring PTSD and personality disorder.  Clinicians should assess for PTSD specifically, keeping in mind that chronic trauma survivors may experience any of the following difficulties:

  • Survivors may avoid thinking and talking about trauma related topics because the feelings associated with the trauma are often overwhelming.
  • Survivors may use alcohol or other substances as a way to avoid and numb feelings and thoughts related to the trauma.
  • Survivors may engage in self-harm.
  • Survivors who have been abused repeatedly are sometimes mistaken as having ‘weak character’ or are unjustly blamed for the symptoms they experience and result in victimization.

It is perfectly normal to experience intrusive thoughts after trauma though these should improve naturally after a relatively short period of time, however treatment should be sought if symptoms persist.

Written by Anne McCrea

References

  1. Herman, J. (1997). Trauma and recovery: The aftermath of violence from domestic abuse to political terror. New York: Basic Books
  2. US Department of Veterans Affairs, 17 August 2015, PTSD: National Center For PTSD, [Online] accessed 15 February 2016.

 

7 thoughts on “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

  1. I was with my husband for 30 years!! I was diagnosed with PTSD about the 6 the year in our relationship.. He attended numberous 30, 60, and 90 day impatient programs.( He was in Vietnam as a medivac-doorb gunner for 2tours!! I did not know him until 20 years after he served.). His treatments became when he threatened suicide., 6 years in our relationship. I did not know what much about Vietnam or PTSD. I strarted reading reaching and attending wifes support groups to understand what happened to my husband. After years of God alful. awful experiences! Things settled down.n a few years later they returned with vengtions. ( even thought it wasn’t always pleasant and enjoyable we muddled though) when we reached our 20th year our relationship was was bad. I was married to a stranger. I didn’t know this person. The isolation started, emotional .abuse, destorying things.. Blaming me for his problems, everything. Money problems when he gambled, being angry, he would get mad if I got sick.. He would take his meds outside put them in a pile and burn them, that was my fault. Then the mental abuse started,he blamed me for our failing marriage. Even though I had him in marriage counseling 3 different occasions to try to get help for us. He would get up and walk out with in 10-15 minutes into a session.. Leave me sitting there, he did not like what the counseler said. On one occasion the literally left me there and the drs office paid for a cab!! The last 6 years were horrific. I left 3 times. The emotional, mental and spiritual abuse was unbearable.. I was gone 4 months, 14 months, the third time I went back I thought he’d changed, really, truly did. After 2 weeks I was floored he hadn’t. ( I should had listen to my gut, But my head was saying 30 years it’s worth one more time) I major eruption happen 2weeks after we were together. Over dinner being 1/2 late. I couldn’t believe what a mess I had gotten myself in. Later that week I was reading a book and I looked over the book and looked at my husband. What I realized scared the shit out of me. I did not love this man!! When did this happened!! I didn’t know. I was so confused and hurt I didn’t know what to.. I went to my room and cried!! As the days went by he became controlling, angry, he started name calling, ( he had never called me names before) I started isolating in my room because again like before I was afraid of him!! He started complaining about the house not being clean enough. I started cleaning every 3 days, everything and the 2 of us lived there. But I did it any way, to keep peace and quiet. But he still became worse with every increasing day. It was unbearable again. Then I felt a lump in my breast. I didn’t tell anyone. I went for a mammo, biopsy. The night before I went for the results I was scared. So I broke down and told my husband. He was the kindest he’d been in years. He told me not to worry it would be alright. Later that evening he was angry,, at what I didn’t know!!! He was yelling because dinner was an hour late. I ask him to please not yell that dinner was going on the table now. And I was sorry but I was worried about results of tomorrows results. He return to me and said ” I hope they have to cut both of your tits off””. I dropped the plate of meat in the floor. I walked over it, tears pouring down my eyes, went in my room and stayed. I did have cancer, I never told him he never ask. This happened the end of last MAY 2015. I was lucky they were able to remove it one contained lump!!! He still doesn’t know or care. In that month I stopped cleaning as much and doing for him. He broke me. I wasnt allowed to enter the living room, or used the front door,the microwave, or the stove. I just didn’t care. Now he was mean, nasty, emotional, mentally, spiritually, and physically abusive. This went on until June 22 2016. I left my house in an ambulance after a physical altercation with him, over not replacing a roll of new toliet paper on the roller. He told the ER squad not to bring me back I wouldn’t be SAFE. I ended up in a shelter for 2 weeks. I was afraid to press charges. But one morning I woke up, looked around and filed a restraining order, had him to vacact our home. He got his walking papers, court 7 days later.. Well he was order to stay away from me a restraining order for 12 months. He tried to get in the home. I called 911 they caught him trying to get in. The arrested him releast him and he continues to ride by and let me know he’s still around.. Since he wouldn’t leave me alone, I filed for assult and battery chargers. The state charged him with 5 counts of assult band battery. And one charge of false imprisonment. What a mess!! I was so scared, I didn’t know what to do with myself. I was up all hours of the house checking and rechecking locks on doors and windows.. I have night mares about him trying to stab me. He pulled a knife on one occasion. Im afraid to go to sleep at night, I don’t want to dream. Ive gone 3-4 days without sleeping at times!! I take meds for that but it doesn’t help in a super heriseral situation. Oh my goodness tthis life after seperation is at times scarier than the real situations.. In May I will be returning in May for a extension on my protection order. I don’t know it I will ever have peace of mind. I’m in counseling,, (PTSD) of all things. But it doesn’t help me understand his any clearer.. He’s everything I’m NOT!!! So I look at myself on a different plain than him.. I don’t abuse anyone any way.. I don’t understand it our differences between us but we are completely different!!!!!!! One thing I would like to share is if you take a person to COURT please WRITE AND READ A VICTIMS IMPACT STATEMENT.. It’s your right the court has to listen to you….

    1. I got a really big dog, 2 actually, and an alarm system. I can sleep at night now, it’s been 4 years. I still have a lot of issues, flashbacks, anxiety, all the usual stuff, but the dogs have helped so very much!

      It’s time to love yourself!

      1. that is a damn fine piece of advice. Im a male it didn’t go as far as yours did, luckily I lived with my daughter who was just 17…I was a single parent. I put up with the abuse towards me and then she started on my daughter to try to get a response. That was it…I loved her but the pain had no gaps.I ended it. Everything was turned round and im still alone, shes on No 3 now, I hurt but its loss…not abuse xx we can do this x

      2. Such an awful thing to happen in anyones life so sad but fight if you must because this is life …. May God guide and be with u always

  2. You better send her/him to jail forever because the longer she/he stays there the more she/he loses its strength to harm others because she/he become old as years pass by. The narc needs to learn her lesson, sending her/him to jail will help for your recovery.

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