Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a condition that can develop after an individual has experienced or even witnessed a devastating traumatic event or series of events. Many victims of childhood abuse, domestic violence, or other violent crimes can develop PTSD, as well as soldiers returning from war.
When we experience a trauma, our brains need time to process this event in order to make sense of the experience. Very often, if an event is beyond our ability to understand or if the trauma has been repeated over time, our brains can have difficulty effectively processing the trauma. In these cases, PTSD may develop and begin to cause the sufferer to have trouble feeling safe in their current life, even after the traumatic events have passed.
People with PTSD often experience nightmares, flashbacks, and feelings that they are unsafe. They may experience hyper vigilance, which means they feel they must constantly be on the lookout for danger. These symptoms bring with them heightened heart rates, sweating, and rapid breathing. Additionally, PTSD sufferers may have difficulty sleeping, and report being easily startled and frequently anxious.
Alternatively, individuals with PTSD may experience symptoms such as a numbing of emotions, loss of interest in their activities, feeling depressed or guilty, and avoiding places or people that remind them of their trauma.
These symptoms can become quite debilitating and can often cause as much harm in an individual’s life as the original trauma. The effects of PTSD can continue throughout one’s life and damage one’s family, career, and social life.
The good news is that there are very effective treatments for PTSD that alleviate symptoms and enable a sufferer to process the trauma and learn skills and tools to become stronger, healthier, and happier. Treatment can empower an individual with PTSD to move past their trauma and reclaim their lives, their families, and their futures.