So the definition of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is that, it is a combination of psychological behavioral and physical symptoms that result from an out-of-the-ordinary life experience, in which one’s life or integrity is threatened or in which one experiences through others witnesses somebody else’s life in danger.
Now we define Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder PTSD in terms of combat situations and that certainly is true in my years I’ve seen over 2,600 combat vets from Iraq and Vietnam who suffer from PTSD.
But people can also get PTSD from a rape, an assault, charge sexual abuse and other situations in which one’s existence or one’s integrity is threatened or put at risk.
PTSD usually results from out of the ordinary life situations in which one is at risk and during which a person feels helpless and hopeless and unable to help themselves.
The result of that is it is a group of symptoms of PTSD which fall into three areas.
1 Remembering the experience
So people with PTSD will often recall the experience in terms of date time remembrances, in terms of nightmares, in terms of flashbacks which is a reliving of the experience.
When we recall an experience we remember it.
When we have a flashback we relive it.
and people with PTSD will remember in terms of getting severe distress at things which even remind them.
It might be a smell or a sound or a sight or a color which might bring it back up.
So the first group of symptoms is re-experiencing.
2. The second is what we call Avoidance
People will avoid thinking or talking or even recalling the event if they can.
People will change in terms of their interaction with others.
So they’ll begin to isolate detach and withdraw from other people they’ll avoid social situations because.
They don’t necessarily want to be around others who might ask about the situation.
They might have blunted emotions where they just have a hard time experiencing any joy or happiness or even sadness in their life.
They’re there they have a blunting of their emotions.
Often they’ll have a sense it’s interesting with my combat veterans.
I’ll see it technically it’s called the sense of a foreshortened future.
where they’ll say you know it’s a really weird doc I think something Bad’s gonna happen to me all the time I don’t know what it is I just think it’s bad.
The third group of symptoms besides reacts Reexperiencing and avoidance is what we call arousal
and arousal involves generally being easily startled so people with PTSD will jump at loud noises will jump at people coming up from behind them
The most poignant example of that was a Vietnam vet I saw recently
Who said doc he said I’m so embarrassed I’ve never told anybody this he gave me permission to tell it by the way
He said you know in my little three-year-old grandson came to stay with me and you know how kids do he came and put his hands over my eyes you know without my realizing.
He was going to do it he puts his hands over mine.
He said and all of a sudden tears start rolling down this big burly Gus cheeks and he said you know what I did
He said before I realized it I took my arm and I slung them and I heard him hit the wall.
This three-year-old kid he didn’t mean anything by it but this guy had this easily startled response and when the kid came up and did that without thinking.
He flung them against the wall.
Another of the arousal symptoms is lack of going to sleep they’re staying asleep and finally being hyper-vigilant that is looking all around and suspecting everybody.
So those are the symptoms that we often see arousal avoidance and re-experiencing and as a result of post-traumatic stress disorder.
People often withdraw into themselves they stop going out socially, they stop interacting with other people and often to treat their insomnia and to treat their symptoms they turn to drugs or alcohol and we see a lot of people with severe PTSD who develop alcohol abuse or drug abuse.