PTSD is a term we hear used in the media a lot these days. As the public’s understanding about and compassion toward mental health conditions improves, and as we as a nation have dealt with numerous natural and manmade disasters, particularly in the last decade, the national conversation about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder has become an ongoing dialog. It’s important to understand some basics about PTSD so we can understand the issues at hand, provide appropriate support to those living with this disorder, and dispel myths that prevent people from getting the help they need and deserve.
1. PTSD impacts people who have experienced a serious, abnormally traumatic event:
While some events in life are traumatic, the loss of a parent or spouse for example, these events do not generally result in PTSD. Rather, PTSD stems from having experienced a traumatic event during which there was a significant threat to one’s own life or the lives of those nearby and having experienced ongoing fear and a sense of horror or helplessness as a result. That is why PTSD is more common in people who have experienced violent assault, rape, major natural disasters, and acts of war.
2. PTSD is more common in women than men:
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), approximately 1 in every 30 adults in the US lives with PTSD. While 5% of men are diagnosed with PTSD at some point in their lives, the number of women is twice that: 10%. This is not so much because women are traumatized more often than men. In fact there are far more men in military service than women (and military personnel, particularly war veterans) have a higher incidence of PTSD than the general public), yet women still outnumber men in being diagnosed with PTSD. Rather, this is thought to be due to hormonal and other chemical, biological trauma response differences between the sexes.
3. Serious traumas can actually impact and change brain function:
There is ongoing research in the area of PTSD, and it indicates that, particularly when someone is exposed to repeated or severely traumatic situations, the brain begins to react with a consistent pattern of anger and/or anxiety. This can cause insomnia, violence, substance abuse, self-harm, and other damaging issues.
4. PTSD is not something to “get over,” and it requires professional support:
PTSD is a serious mental health condition that requires professional intervention. When a person has been exposed to such threatening conditions that s/he begins to consistently live in a state of heightened stress in which the “fight or flight” response is routinely active, his/her body is under as much duress as his or her mind. That is, when someone’s PTSD is triggered, the body and mind work together to protect the self. This means all non-essential bodily functions and brain processes switch off so that the body can focus on its safety. Critical thinking, memory, and emotion all take a backseat while heart rate and hormone production skyrocket.
5. People with PTSD need support from family, friends, colleagues, and mental health professionals:
If someone in your life has PTSD, it’s important to offer support and encouragement. If you have PTSD, it’s important to choose some trusted people in each area of your life to confide in. Let them know what you’re dealing with, ask for support, and tell them about any medications you may be taking as part of your therapy.
At Lauren’s Hope, we often receive orders for PTSD medical ID jewelry. For many people with PTSD, medic alert bracelets and custom dog tags are a real necessity because their anxiety disorders are debilitating and can leave them unable to self-advocate. We feel good knowing that our medical IDs help people with PTSD feel a little safer as they navigate the path toward healing. If you have questions about what to engrave on your PTSD medical alert bracelet, give us a call at 1.800.360.8680 for assistance. We’re here to help.