WHAT IS

Post-Traumatic Stress disorder?

PTSD is defined as a trauma-related or stress-related mental disorder. PTSD “triggers” include exposure to a life-threatening situation, serious injury, sexual assault, or the witnessing of a death or the threat of death. When a person encounters stress–anything from a hectic morning at work to the threat of physical harm–the body’s sympathetic response is triggered. This response releases cortisol into the system, which enables the person to prepare his or her “fight or flight” response.

When the threat passes, the parasympathetic system takes over and the body returns to its normal functioning. In cases of PTSD, however, the threat proves so stressful that the body never fully returns to the parasympathetic mode. This leaves the person in constant “fight or flight” mode.

PTSD

Not just for veterans

PTSD has long been associated with military combat. In fact, many mistake PTSD as a disorder that occurs only among veterans. “Shell shock” is a nickname for certain symptoms of PTSD that dates back to World War I. While military combat is a leading cause of the disorder, it is far from the only cause.

Violent assault, like a mugging or domestic altercation, natural disasters like floods and fires, sexual assault, and childhood abuse are common PTSD triggers. Just about anything that threatens the life or well-being of a person, leaving him or her with lingering feelings of powerlessness, can trigger PTSD.

While not everyone who’s ever suffered a traumatic event develops PTSD, nearly 9 percent of the U.S. population have suffered some form of PTSD in their lifetime, according to a 2013 study by the Journal of Traumatic Stress.

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SYMPTOMS OF PTSD

PTSD symptoms normally start soon after the traumatic event. Then again, they may not appear until months or even years afterwards. They also may come and go over many years.

There are four main types of PTSD symptoms. Of course, each person experiences symptoms in their own way. The symptoms are:

  • Reliving or re-experiencing the event. This is called a flashback. Traumatic memories and nightmares can also occur.
  • Avoiding situations that remind you of the event.
  • Having more negative beliefs and feelings in general. There may be more guilt and shame or, a disinterest in activities once found enjoyable.
  • Feeling jittery, or always alert and on the lookout for danger. This is known as “hyperarousal.”
  • Feelings of hopelessness, shame, or despair
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Drinking or drug problems
  • Physical symptoms or chronic pain
  • Employment problems
  • Relationship problems

PTSD AND ADDICTION

It should come as no surprise that people with PTSD might turn to drugs or alcohol as a way to numb or escape from their stress feelings. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that as many as two out of ten vets suffering from PTSD also suffer substance abuse problems.

However, using drugs and alcohol to counteract PTSD symptoms can worsen those symptoms. Drugs and alcohol interrupt sleep patterns, impair judgment, and increase risk-taking behavior. Risk-taking behavior can lead to domestic problems, unemployment, even incarceration.

Because substance abuse impairs memory and perception, and trauma makes substance abuse more likely, both disorders create a complicated “dual diagnosis” situation. Dual diagnosis requires a combination addiction and mental health treatment.

Dual Diagnosis patients require integrated treatment, or treatment that address both disorders. Each member of the treatment team should have experience with both disorders.

Treatment at JourneyPure Emerald Coast

JourneyPure Emerald Coast is an integrated treatment facility located in Panama City Beach for men and women to begin their recovery. We offer medically-assisted detox services, individual and group counseling and experiential therapies. Our friendly and knowledgeable staff is ready for you to get healthy and stay healthy. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can happen to anyone. A number of factors can increase the chance that someone will have PTSD, many of which are not under that person’s control. What can be controlled is how a person addresses his or her PTSD. A comprehensive mental health treatment may be necessary.

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