This anxiety disorder can have a lifelong effect on a person. It not only affects veterans; it can happen to anybody that has had any type of trauma causing major psychological or emotional damage. A car accident, domestic violence, child abuse/neglect, rape, sexual assault, molestation. I could list more however, I think you get the idea. This disorder is treatable but without treatment it can be damaging.
This is not a disorder that is treated overnight. Even with medications it takes time, counseling, and a support group that is loving and understanding of the plight. For myself, this is a lifelong journey to treat; most days are good however there is that moment. When triggering event happens to the person with PTSD, it can send them back into past emotions. Learning to recognize when this happening is part of therapy, however sometimes it can take weeks to realize what is going on.
Sometimes it is not emotions, the scene around them will shift to that time and place, and they are not seeing what is presently going on. These are called flashbacks. I am sure you have heard the stories about veteran’s flashbacks and seen the TV series episodes that have been done where a veteran was in a flashback in a construction site. He thought he was back in the war. I forget which show did that but it was many years ago. This just does not happen to veteran’s; it can happen to anybody with a diagnosis of PTSD. Thankfully I have not had this happen in a long time.
When the process of the triggering event is happening, psychologically and emotionally, a process of “fight of flight” is taking place in the body rapidly. Harvard Health Publications talks in detail about this response here. Two areas of the brain are communicating the perceived danger and telling the body to react, to get out-of-the-way “of the stressor”. This sends adrenaline to the body, making your heart beat faster pushing blood to your heart, muscles, and other vital organs. Your blood pressure and pulse go up. This causes you to breathe faster and smaller airways in your lungs open wide. This allows for as much oxygen as possible to go to the lungs with each breath. To be more alert, more oxygen is sent to the brain and your hearing, sight, and other senses are sharper. Epinephrine will trigger blood sugar and fats from sites in your body into your bloodstream to give you more energy.
Chronic activation of this survival mechanism impairs health.
This disorder is nothing to mess around with; get help if any of this rings true for you. There is life at the end of the tunnel. Not getting help can cause physical and psychological damage that is life long and destructive in many ways.
This disorder affects families and sometimes the sufferer harms themselves. Sometimes they turn to addiction or alcoholism to deal with it. There are ways to deal with it and support your loved one, if that is your role. They now are mandating it by the ADA that service animals be allowed for PTSD. I, personally, have a cat for my PTSD. She calms, and de-stresses me, in my moments of anxiety long before I realize I am going down that road.
I live my life with this attitude concerning PTSD:
The reason is because I am a Survivor, not a victim. I do not walk on people to get where I am going. However, I do not let things stand in my way; people included. I keep my group small and I know if anybody is putting a hole in my boat. I am not a sinking ship anymore; I adjust my sails to the winds and sail free on open waters.
Image credits: All, by Facebook
©Lori Younglove 10/13/2015. Do not reprint without permission.