Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
The effect that an event can have on us can vary enormously. It is part of our learning psychology. Our defence mechanism. For example if you go on a roller coaster and its dips and rushes scare you then it is not likely that you will rush back for a repeat. Unless you like being scared by that sort of thing which could be possible. People’s response to events can be as unique as the individual themselves. Responding to traumatic events, however, does often follow a norm. While people may get a “high” from a being scared on a roller coaster I doubt that many would get the same high from being scared if they are being shot at or in a crash. It is also surprising how some people can be affected by seemingly insignificant events. I know someone who was tickled a lot as a child and now often flinches when bodily contact is made. Reactions to events can sometimes turn into phobias, sometimes has no effect or sometimes take the form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This is a term we are hearing a lot more as it is often used in connection with military personnel returning from duty in areas of conflict such as Afghanistan. It is also something that can be experienced by those in the emergency services. But the ordinary public are not immune to it either. Seeing an accident can be a cause or being involved in a disaster can do the same. Being an aid worker in a third world country could expose you to such environments that trigger it as well.
Not everyone shares the same signs and symptoms although there are common ones. These include flashbacks, nervous agitation at loud noises, being hyper alert, avoidance, depression, over indulgence in substances, behavioural extremes. PTSD is invariably caused by something that makes us fear for our life even if it is only from observing such an event so no wonder the repercussions can be so traumatic.
The effects of PTSD don’t necessarily appear soon after the event. It can sometimes be weeks or months before the symptoms display themselves. In addition to the above symptoms people might experience headaches, panic, fear and depression. It is an understandable reaction and remember, it is the mind acting to protect the body. However, it is trying to protect it from a misunderstood threat as there is none.
There are a variety of methods used to treat PTSD and the one I adopt is counselling. My principle is that the mind and body is acting as it does under PTSD because that is how it has been programmed to act in such a situation. Just as it has been programmed so it can be reprogrammed. There are some counsellors who, when helping someone with PTSD, will ask them to describe the event. I will not! If the person wants to tell me about it then fine but I will never ask them to. To do so would, in my opinion, be asking them to relive the whole incident and its traumas again which I do not believe to be good. In fact I believe it to be very harmful. Through discussion and the implementation of behavioural practices I would endeavour to devise and implement a program that reinforces the good times. Thus eliminating the bad and reprogramming the body and mind. Strengthening the good and crowding out the bad. It does work. Again it is no different to how we learn most things and have done so since we were born.
If you want help with this or know someone who might please get in touch.
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