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What is PTSD?

          The term PTSD has been around for a long time.  It stands for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which is a condition that can happen when a person is exposed enough to extremely stressful situations.  How much exposure is enough to cause PTSD is completely dependent upon the individual’s own mental condition.  That is, an event that may seem almost trivial or ‘normal’ to someone may be taken completely opposite by someone else.  And, it isn’t fair to make light of person who is suffering from PTSD just because you may be able to brush off a stressful situation without any trouble at all.  For example, a combat soldier may have nightmares for a long time after seeing dead people killed in battle, whereas his or her buddy may not give it a second thought.

          PTSD is not necessarily a product of combat experiences.  Women who are sexually assaulted while serving in the military are very susceptible to the effects of PTSD; it also can take many years for the signs and symptoms of PTSD to influence the behaviors and reactions of the person who was exposed to that level of emotional pain.

Do I Have PTSD?

          So, do you  have PTSD?  Following is a list of symptoms that you need to answer with complete honesty.  Read through them and grade your response from 0 – 10, 10 being the most severe.  When you are finished, determine whether or not you need help.  There is no ‘pass or fail’ to this exercise.  If you sit down and really think about your answers, the right course of action will come to you.  If the answer is you need help, then seek help at your earliest convenience.  Don’t be afraid, either.  PTSD is not considered to be “curable.”  But, how you react to your PTSD is extremely crucial to living a happier life after the military. Here is the list for you to study:

  • Recurrent, intrusive, and distressing thoughts about the event;
  • Recurrent dreams, nightmares (night ‘terrors’) about the event;
  • Flashbacks (a sense of reliving the event);
  • Distress caused by reminders of the event (sights, sounds, smells);
  • Alienation, isolation, and avoidance of people and places;
  • Emotional numbness;
  • No sense of future;
  • Survivor guilt (for having survived when others did not);
  • Difficulty falling or staying asleep;
  • Anger and rage;
  • Difficulty concentrating or remembering;
  • Hyper-vigilance, or survivalist behavior;
  • Exaggerated startle response (usually to loud noises)

Other Symptoms of PTSD

          There may be other symptoms contributing to your PTSD, so this list is not in any way complete.  Some veterans, for example, cannot sit in a movie theater unless they can get an end seat in the very top row of the theater, or they may not be able to stay in a restaurant unless their back is to a solid wall.  More serious symptoms include homicidal and suicidal thoughts (and actions).  PTSD is considered by the Veterans Administration to be a disability, and compensation as well as treatment is available to those who actively apply with the VA.  Don’t delay.  If you need help getting started, contact us at the Southern Utah Vet’s Aid in Saint George, Utah.  Our number is 435-215-3090.

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