Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD has been called ‘combat fatigue’ and ‘shell shock’ in times past. PTSD is usually associated with military personnel and combat experiences. PTSD can also be diagnosed for other stressful experiences. What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder? Click here for a definition; basically PTSD is a conditioned response occurring from exposure to frightening experiences. PTSD may include nightmares, shock-like symptoms, constant reliving of the experience, inability to interact in public and acute anxiety.
Because Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder was first described in post-combat military personnel, therapists and psychologists initially used it only in diagnosis of combat related experiences. The DSM-IV and DSM-V now use this definition for PTSD:
‘By definition, PTSD always follows a traumatic event which causes intense fear and/or helplessness in an individual. Typically the symptoms develop shortly after the event, but may take years. The duration for symptoms is at least one month for this diagnosis.’
PTSD occurs in incidents of abuse, violence, sexual abuse, kidnapping, rape, but also experiences like severe storms, cataclysmic weather conditions, earthquake, flood, intense physical pain and injury, death of loved one and other experiences of danger and shock. I was surprised when speaking with a clinical psychologist about some emotional issues that I was experiencing, that he suggested PTSD. I have experienced traumatic nightmares for years. I have struggled with chronic anxiety and nervous complaints for years. When we explored further some events in my life, he confirmed his diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
He made the comment that I had developed a ‘high tolerance for emotional and physical pain’. This is another repercussion of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. People who have experienced great shocks and pain develop emotional callouses to dull the pain. These callouses enable them to tolerate increasing amounts of pain, but at great cost. People with PTSD often lack healthy skills for coping with pain. Fortunately, cognitive therapy can be immensely helpful in healing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. For an online resource, visit Daily Strength here. I’ve linked you to the homepage, where you can search for support groups on any subject. I checked and there is a PTSD support group here.