Battling, hard, fighting, struggling, alone… just some of the words that I’ve heard over the last week since my last post.  The reaction has been quite overwhelming to be fair.  Not only with the support from you all about my battle with depression and PTSD, but also with how many of you have reached out to talk to me about your battle with mental health issues.  It’s so good to talk!

One recurring question from you all was about PTSD and how it affects you.  I have to be honest and say that before I was diagnosed I would not have thought that PTSD was something I would suffer from.  Now that may sound quite judgmental, but actually what I mean by that statement is that for me PTSD is something that people who have gone through severe trauma would suffer from.  I guess I never allowed myself to see what I went through as severe enough.

However going to therapy has made me allow myself to admit that what I have been through is traumatic.  Some of those trauma’s are easier to talk about than others.  There are things I’ve been through that I didn’t truly comprehend how much they had affected my life.  But also some events which weren’t as traumatic as i’d built them up to be over the years, having been so young when I experienced them.  Therapy has allowed me to view each event, process it individually and deal with it accordingly.  Half way through therapy and I can’t tell you the difference it’s made.

Symptoms

So what are the symptoms of PTSD:

  • Re-experiencing
  • Avoidance and emotional numbing
  • Hyperarousal (feeling ‘on edge’ / fight or flight)
  • Depression, anxiety, phobias
  • Self harm, drug misuse, alcohol misuse
  • Headaches, stomach pains, dizziness, chest pains

When I read these symptoms for the first time it just made sense.

Treatment

About 1 in 3 people who have experienced severe trauma will develop PTSD.

It isn’t fully understood why some people develop the condition while others don’t.

Treatment will firstly be focused around physiological therapies (CBT, EMDR, Group therapy), with medication usually only introduced with severe or persistent PTSD.  Children and young people will usually be advised to have trauma focused CBT, medication is not usually recommended.

How you can help

Try not to judge

If you’ve not experienced PTSD yourself, it can be hard to understand why your friend or family member can’t seem to ‘move on’.

Learn their triggers

Each person will have a different experience of PTSD, so it might help to talk about what sorts of situations or conversations might trigger flashbacks or difficult feelings.

Respect their personal space

People who experience PTSD may often feel jumpy or on edge. It can help if you:

  • avoid crowding the person
  • don’t touch or hug them without permission
  • try not to startle or surprise them.

Look out for warning signs

You might see a change in the behaviour of the person you want to support.

Help them to find support

If they want you to, you could help your friend or family member to find further support.

Mind.org explains this perfectly and with more detail, along with personal accounts from survivors and their families.

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