National Anxiety and Depression Awareness Week ~ PTSD
Posted May 05 2009 5:26pm
TRIGGER WARNING ~ VIDEO IS GRAPHIC!!!
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder can lead to suicide as people with the disorder become desperate to end the flashbacks and nightmares of the trauma that they endured this includes war veterans and others. Approximately, 5.2 million adult Americans attempt suicide.
According to Psychiatric Times, Lieutenant General Peake testified that the number of suicide attempts by all veterans under treatment by the VA actually could be more than the 1000 per month. According to Wrong Diagnosis, approximately 20.2 of every 100,000 soldiers killed themselves, compared with the 2006 civilian rate of 19.2.
About.com, reports that those with PTSD rates of suicide attempts increased considerably among people who had experienced multiple incidents of sexual (42.9%) or physical assault (73.5%). They also found that a history of sexual molestation, physical abuse as a child, and neglect as a child were associated with high rates of suicide attempts (17.4% to 23.9%). 5.2 million adult Americans (NIMH); 3.6% adults (NIMH); about 30% of war veterans.
This National Anxiety and Depression Awareness Week, so I thought that I would address one of the most misunderstood diagnosis, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, I have this disorder due the abuse I experienced in childhood. It became debilitating for me, but I hid it for a very long time. Treatment is available and those with the disorder can lead fulfilling lives. Depression was previously covered in another post.
Freedom From Fear states, “Each year more than 17 million Americans will suffer with an anxiety disorder. More than 19 million will also suffer from some type of depressive illness. The cost to the economy of these terrible diseases is billions of dollars each year; the cost in human suffering is immeasurable.
Despite all of advancements and opportunities for safe treatment, the majority of folks who suffer with anxiety and depressive illnesses do not seek treatment, drop out of treatment too quickly, are non-compliant to treatment or receive treatments that are not the most effective. Some of the reasons this occurs are the terrible stigma surrounding mental illnesses, lack of resources available to those in need (adequate insurance, community resources, knowledge of where to go for treatment, not enough treatment providers, etc) public's lack of understanding the signs and symptoms of theses illnesses.
Clinicians recognize about 12 relatively distinct subtypes of anxiety disorder: Panic Disorder, with and without Agoraphobia; Agoraphobia Without a History of Panic Disorder; Specific Phobia; Social Phobia; Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder; Post-traumatic Stress Disorder; Acute Stress Disorder; Generalized Anxiety Disorder; Anxiety Disorder Due to a General Medical Condition; Substance-Induced Anxiety Disorder; and Anxiety Disorder Not Otherwise Specified.
The prevalence of these disorders is startling. At sometime during their lives, nearly a quarter (24.9%) of the adult population in the United States will have an anxiety disorder. Only substance-related disorders are more common (26.6%).” We all have stressful events in our lives,but its what we make of them that defines our character. This not a simple stressful event. It is a trauma outside the range of “normal” personal experiences where you believe that your life or someone else’s is in danger.
What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder? Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD, is an anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened. Traumatic events that may trigger PTSD include violent personal assaults, natural or human-caused disasters, accidents, or military combat. Tomorrow I will cover the DSM-IV-TR Criteria for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder .
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder has been around as long as there has been wars, torture, abuse, divorce, accidents, deaths or any type of trauma, but never had a name. People probably ignored it, had “nervous breakdowns,” combat stress, shell shock, became delusional or psychotic, became addicted (alcohol, drugs, sex, gambling-yes, those are verified addictions) or committed suicide.
It is not a medical bandwagon and not an excuse. It is not readily diagnosed because there has to be a triggering event. It is a real disease that significantly disrupts a persons life. When I started to have memories of my abuse, I eventually was no longer able to work. I wanted to continue; however, my symptoms became such that I was either going to be hospitalized or stop working. I miss working, but know I cannot which is a tough thing for me to swallow.
My symptoms include intrusive flashbacks of my abuse (auditory, olafactory, seeing, physically feeling and re-experiencing my abuse), disrupted sleep, dissociation (not completely in reality, but in a fog state), extreme hypervigilance, exaggerated startle response, panic attacks, feeling overwhelmed ALL the time and avoidance of anything associated with my abuse (crowds, loud noises, odors, yelling, loud voices, knives, tools, belts, the color pink, I could write a whole page, but I won’t). I don’t have control of when the flashbacks occur and they significantly interfere with my daily life. It is treatable usually with psychotherapy and medications which I am doing. There is also another form of treatment called EMDR, Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing which as been quite successful for some.
Are we better off not knowing about PTSD? Is it possible for the brain to recover totally? Or do you just have to learn to live with it? No, we are not better off not knowing because it occurs in our brain anyway. No, would you want to live with those symptoms because they are there whether or not you have a name for it. Having a name helps people learn to cope with it and not think that they are “crazy.” There are actually neurological changes in the pathways that react to stress that become automatic. Those cannot be changed without intervention. The pathway does not ever go away. However, the brain can learn new pathways, but it is very difficult…take it from someone who knows.
The flashbacks at this intensity and reactivity with treatment can get to the point where there a less severe or no symptoms or flashbacks that are easily handled or do not have an intensity about them. The brain will still go there or it may not, but it just maybe a nuisance or the new pathway can easily take over. Or you may just need to tell yourself, “okay, I’m not in that situation…I can handle this…I am not going to die/get hurt.” Then, deal with the situation in a more “normal.” manner. It has taken much therapy and medications to try to learn how to cope and learn new ways of managing my life. Tomorrow, I will cover the DSM-IV-TR Criteria for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.
To obtain much more complete information you can go to one of the following links: