June is PTSD Awareness Month. After a year of pandemic-related stress and trauma, I want to highlight some information about PTSD, and also provide encouragement and hope for those who might be struggling.
While we often think of PTSD as being most closely related to military combat veterans, any person who has been exposed to severe psychological trauma may experience the same symptoms as combat survivors.
Did you know women are twice as likely to suffer from PTSD than men? This often revolves around increased instances of sexual assault, and sexual or emotional abuse from a domineering partner.
Here are PTSD symptoms to recognize in yourself or a loved one:
- Reliving traumatic events through nightmares, flashbacks or intrusive memories
- Being seriously disturbed or upset by events that trigger recall of the original trauma
- Avoiding people, places and things that may serve as reminders of the traumatic situation
- Feeling emotionally numb and detached from life
- Having trouble concentrating or sleeping
- Being easily startled, and having an excessively strong or violent startle reaction
- Problems with sexual functioning
- Physical symptoms such as dizziness, headaches, or a pounding heart
- Feelings of guilt for having survived a situation that cost others their lives or their health
- Feeling that a “normal” future is not possible – or that there is no future at all
Trauma is not just in your head. It can impart a real emotional, and even physical, imprint on your body. Research is now showing that a traumatic event, and especially a series of traumatic events, can affect your memory processing, and actually result in changes in your brain.
The lasting mental and physical wounds can make you more susceptible to serious health conditions. While a trauma sufferer may look healthy on the outside, trauma can linger and fester, eventually manifesting in weight gain, diabetes, stroke and even heart attack.
Even if you don’t feel dramatic health issues, a traumatic event can cause your mood to swing wildly. You may experience more and more frequent anxiety that can blossom into debilitating anxiety attacks. You may withdraw from friends, family, and social gatherings. You might lose energy, feel fatigued, and feel continually “off.”
There is Good News
Past traumatic events do not have to live permanently embedded in your mind and body. Successful treatment of PTSD can help decouple and process your traumatic memories. By discussing and working through them, you help release them from your system.
It doesn’t mean you forget, it means you resolve. It helps your mind release the unresolved pain, confusion, and tension that has had a permanent residence in your body and emotions. Ultimately, when the traumatic memory is more balanced and worked through in the mind, the brain and body begin to heal.
Imagine a world where you can embrace your life and the people you love, again. Imagine planning for your future without symptoms like chronic fear holding you back. As you know, post-traumatic stress disorder can be paralyzing in all areas of life.
But there is a treatment approach that has proven to help trauma and PTSD sufferers regain their life, balance, and happiness. It is Whole Person Care. It is a treatment that addresses the medical, physical, psychological, emotional, nutritional, fitness and spiritual needs.
Dr. Gregory Jantz is the Founder of The Center • A Place of HOPE, in Edmonds, Washington. The Center is recognized as a Top 10 Center for Depression Treatment, and Dr. Jantz is credited with creating the Whole Person Care approach to treatment. The author of over 40 best-selling books, Dr. Jantz is a media expert on mental health and addiction.