Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Overview

PTSD is a disorder that develops for some people in response to a shocking, scary, or dangerous event (National Institute of Mental Health, 2016). These events are often described as traumatic events/experiences.

What You Should Know

It is normal to experience a range of reactions following a traumatic event. However, not everyone will develop PTSD. Those who continue to experience symptoms/problems may be diagnosed with PTSD.

Anyone, no matter how acute or severe the symptoms, can get treatment & support at any time.

Symptoms

People who experience symptoms for longer than 1 month may be experiencing PTSD

  • Flashbacks – reliving the event over & over
  • Nightmares & bad dreams
  • Intrusive, frightening thoughts
  • Avoiding places, events, or objects that are reminders of the traumatic event
  • Avoiding thoughts or feelings related to the traumatic event
  • Being easily startled
  • Feelings of tenseness & being “on edge”
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Trouble remembering key components of traumatic event
  • Negative thoughts about self, others, and the world
  • Feelings of guilt, blame, and/or shame
  • Feeling distant or cut off from others
  • Trouble experiencing positive feelings
  • Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed
  • Taking too many risks or doing things that would cause you harm
  • Difficulty concentrating

*It is normal and natural to experience these symptoms following a traumatic event. Sometimes people will have these symptoms that go away after a few weeks. This is referred to as Acute Stress Disorder.\

Myth Buster

Debunking myths & replacing with facts

  • Not everyone who experiences a traumatic event will experience PTSD
  • PTSD can develop from a range of events including robberies, vehicle accidents, fires, natural disasters, sexual/physical assault, combat involvement, and responding to or witnessing either of these events
  • Everyone with PTSD is not dangerous
  • PTSD is not a sign of weakness
  • Getting help for PTSD does not mean that you are crazy
  • Talking about the traumatic event over time will not make PTSD worse

Support and Treatments

Other treatments may be available in the community

  • Peer support services
  • Chaplain services
  • Psychotherapy
  • Psychoeducation
  • Medication management (may be offered in the community)

Self Care

Practicing self-care can significantly improve your symptoms & treatment outcomes

  • Get education about exercise & physical wellness & apply learned tools (click here to learn more about physical fitness)
  • Improve sleep hygiene when off duty (click here to learn more about improving your sleep)
  • Set realistic goals for yourself to begin to re-engage in enjoyable activities
  • Remain connected with others you trust
  • Mindfulness & meditation
  • Decrease alcohol use and/or avoid alcohol to cope as alcohol can increase symptom severity
  • Avoid drugs to cope

References

National Institute of Mental Health. (February, 2016).  Post-traumatic stress disorder. Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd/index.shtml