From statements heard over the last decade in public, I believe I’m safe in saying a majority of Americans, if asked, would say posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) affects mostly men that served in the military under life-threatening conditions. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Most Americans with PTSD never served in the military. A majority are women.
Due to having severe symptoms affecting their daily lives, some people with PTSD have been classified as having a disability. That is why I write about the disorder here.
People “get” PTSD after being faced with an extreme traumatic stressor in which they experience actual or threatened death or serious injury. Women often acquire PTSD from rape or being sexually or physically abused as children. Other ways to acquire PTSD include witnessing or experiencing extreme violence of any type, such as a terrorist attack, serious automobile accident, physical or sexual assault, robbery, torture or natural disasters.
PTSD was one reason I became a licensed professional counselor. In 1966, at age 7, I was in a serious automobile accident in which two people died and I was conscious throughout nearly all the experience while waiting for an ambulance to arrive.
I struggled many ways over many years, and tried keeping my heightened level of anxiety hidden from others until about 2006. PTSD is an anxiety disorder. People with PTSD, in part, have symptoms such as hypervigilance (always being on edge), repeatedly re-experiencing the event in thought and emotion (flashbacks), and avoiding most anything associated with the event.
Just this week, I released in paperback (an e-book version isn’t ready) a chronicle of my battle with PTSD, which I have titled, The War. You can find The War by visiting www.Lulu.com and placing “Daniel J. Vance” into the “Search Lulu’s Bookstore” box.
I offer an intimate inside look into what one person with PTSD feels and thinks, detailed information about what PTSD is and does, and a number of practical ways or suggestions for a person to get better.
Most people with PTSD don’t even realize they have the disorder.
To self-medicate the hypervigilance or deaden the flashbacks, people with PTSD often turn to alcohol or drugs.
Just about everyone knows a person with PTSD. It will affect about one American in twelve over a lifetime. Perhaps you can change at least one person’s life by pointing out this week’s column.