The time taken to recover from a tragic or traumatic event differs for different people. While some people may take weeks or months, others may suffer much longer. From 1-3.5% in the general population to a high of 20% for paramedics and other First Responders. While some are able to recover from trauma relatively quickly, others become overwhelmed by their feelings for months, or even years, after the incident has taken place. In such a situation, it is possible that the person is suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Here are 5 things to know about PTSD.
- Symptoms of PTSD
PTSD is increasingly recognized as a significant mental health concern. Adverse reactions to trauma and stress are not signs of psychological weakness or a moral failing. PTSD is a medical condition that causes real and measurable changes in brain function and the bodies nervous system. Not every trauma will cause PTSD, and not every stressed person suffers from PTSD. Most people recover naturally following exposure to difficult sights, experiences, or sounds. If though, some combination of disturbed thoughts, irritation, flashbacks, hypervigalence, trigger avoidance, sense of disconnection, sleeping issues, anxiety or panic attacks, and nightmares continue for more than a month, you might be suffering from PTSD.
- PTSD Can Happen to Anyone
While PTSD is most commonly associated with miltary veterans, the disorder may affect any person exposed to trauma, or individuals who are repeatedly exposed to trauma outcomes, such as First Responders. Traumatizing events may include accidents, natural disasters, sexual assault, acts of war, domestic violence, terrorist attacks or any life-threatening incident or incident perceived to be life threatening. Children may develop PTSD if exposed to abuse or domestic violence. While some children are diagnosed while they are still young, many learn to hide or bury their memories until they are older. Their PTSD symptoms may abruptly appear when triggered by exposure to new trauma, if they hear the story of someone who had similar childhood experiences, or by their own children reaching the age when they were traumatized.
- Prolonged Consequences, if Left Untreated
Individuals often ignore the symptoms of PTSD and live with its associated symptoms. Individuals with unresolved PTSD may become depressed or violent. They may repeatedly find themselves in negative or abusive relationships. Early use of drugs and alcohol are often indicators of unresolved trauma, and such early use places them at increased risk of developing a substance abuse disorder or other addiction such as gambling, internet, or sex addition. PTSD is often associated with reduced cognitive function that may include impaired memory, concentration, learning, and difficulty with problem solving and task completion. In the most serious cases, PTSD can lead to suicidal ideation, that may end with one or more people being seriously harmed or killed.
- It Can be Treated
A variety of researched and proven treatments for PTSD are now available. These include EMDR, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Prolonged Exposure, and medications. The method and duration of treatment for recovery can differ from one individual to another.
- Get Help from Edmonton Psychologists
Firefly Counselling offers a team of Edmonton psychologists who are skilled in treating the person affected with PTSD, and in helping the families of PTSD victims. Our clinicians have worked extensively with First Responders and military personnel and understand the culture, humour, and challenges these populations face. We are recognized service providers for the Alberta Paramedics Association, Veterans Affairs Canada, for First Nations people, Residential School survivors, and the RCMP. We also routinely work with individuals of all ages suffering from trauma. Firefly Counselling is recognized for its work with very young traumatized children, through to seniors who have been struggling with their PTSD symptoms all of their lives.