O.K. I know what you thought when you read today’s topic. Yes, I am now, officially, being melodramatic about my horrible flight experience. What good is going through something traumatic if you can’t milk it a little? At this point, one of two things has to happen. Either, I have to stop talking about it, or I have to start embellishing the facts to make it more interesting. Everyone I know has already heard the real details. While I am never one to let the truth get in the way of a good story, I think it is time to look back, laugh, and let it go. I am starting to annoy myself. After all, it could have been worse – I could have six kids. But, what happens when time does not make things better? Psychologically, what happens when someone just can’t let it go? (By the way — “Let It Go” by Zac Brown — great song.)
1. PTSD is a type of anxiety disorder that some people suffer after experiencing an event that caused or threatened serious harm or death.
2. Any traumatic event can precipitate PTSD but common causes are time spent in combat, natural disasters, car or AIRPLANE crashes, being victim to a violent crime, terrorist attacks, sudden death of a loved one, and a history of child abuse. Occasionally, a friend or family member will experience PTSD even though he did not live through the event.
3. Of course, it is likely that anyone would experience stress after living through a terrifying event such as those mentioned above. Usually, post-traumatic symptoms will last a few days or a few weeks at most. PTSD is diagnosed when symptoms last longer and interfere with the business of living.
4. Symptoms include flashbacks, nightmares, avoidance, emotional numbing and anxiety. Patients tend to not only avoid situations that remind them of the traumatic event, but also, to avoid things they used to enjoy. Patients with PTSD may become hopeless, guilt ridden, have memory problems and difficulty concentrating. They may experience hallucinations, have difficulty sleeping, and often take part in self-destructive behavior – like drinking. Finally, I have an excuse. Thank you Jet Blue!
5. The cornerstone of PTSD treatment is cognitive behavioral therapy. Some medications have proved to be useful, but therapy is still the most effective treatment. Patients hate to hear this. Therapy sounds like work – and it is. There are simply no magic pills.
Everyone has different coping mechanisms, different abilities to handle stressful situations. Likewise, in the aftermath of a traumatic event, everyone responds differently. Even elephants and dogs have shown signs of PTSD – don’t ask me how we know that. PTSD can be a debilitating condition – imagine that poor pachyderm startling easily. It can also be a great murder defense. I learned that on Law and Order. It might come in handy someday.