Every day we see traumatic events unfolding around the world. We watch as tragedy strikes those around us, many of us experiencing tragedy firsthand. The 24-hour news cycle covers these events in great detail, analyzing every moment of the disaster so that we may better comprehend what is happening in the world around us. The question is, what happens in the aftermath? What happens when the smoke clears, when the waters recede, or when the funeral is over? Some will move forward and heal in a healthy way after the event, but many are not as fortunate. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can be a debilitating condition that occurs after experiencing a life-threatening event and often requires the assistance of a medical professional. Surprisingly, it can even happen to injured athletes, and not just high profile athletes.
One of the dangers of PTSD is that many people suffering from the condition remain silent about their struggle. Often times this can lead to debilitating depression, psychological harm, and addiction. The Mayo Clinic states that symptoms of PTSD include:
- Recurrent, disturbing memories of the traumatic event
- Reliving the traumatic event as if it were happening again (flashbacks)
- Upsetting dreams about the traumatic event
- Severe emotional distress or physical reactions to something that reminds you of the event
- Trying to avoid thinking or talking about the traumatic event
- Avoiding places, activities or people that remind you of the traumatic event
- Irritability, angry outbursts or aggressive behavior
- Always being on guard for danger
- Overwhelming guilt or shame
- Self-destructive behavior, such as drinking too much or driving too fast
- Trouble concentrating
- Trouble sleeping
- Being easily startled or frightened
The holidays can often heighten the effects of PTSD. Family functions can make the PTSD sufferer feel isolated and reluctant to join in the celebration. Many PTSD sufferers also struggle with survivor guilt. The events of the holidays can easily magnify the guilt they harness and create obstacles to deal with their grief in a healthy way. Large crowds and alcohol can also be triggers for anxiety. It’s important for family and friends of someone dealing with PTSD to consider possible triggers for their loved one, and do what they can to help manage possible negative circumstances.
There are several options for PTSD sufferers in managing their symptoms. They include developing anxiety coping techniques, creating an exit plan in case they become overwhelmed at an event, and forming a support network to surround them during times of heightened stress.
If you or someone you know suffers from PTSD symptoms, immediately contact your health care provider for help in managing symptoms. This condition can become worse without treatment, resulting in detrimental effects on the wellbeing of the person who suffers from the disorder.
The holidays are a time to gather with friends and family to share the joys of the season. This season, take a moment to make sure those who may suffer from PTSD are supported in their recovery so the holidays may once again be a care-free and pain-free experience.