Are there physical problems that are commonly associated with PTSD?
In addition to the thoughts and feelings identified in the What is PTSD?[LINK TO PAGE ON SITE] section, people with PTSD may also experience physical symptoms, such as increased blood pressure and heart rate, fatigue, muscle tension, nausea, joint pain, headaches, back pain, or other types of pain. The person in pain may not realize the connection between their pain and a traumatic event. For people with chronic pain, the pain may actually serve as a reminder of the traumatic event, which in turn may intensify PTSD symptoms. Some people who develop PTSD and chronic pain also experience depression and alcohol and prescription medication misuse. Chronic PTSD has been shown to increase the risk of having a variety of health issues and decreased life expectancy.
My spouse has just been diagnosed with PTSD, how can I best help?
A person contending with exposure to a traumatic event may feel helpless, prompting a concerned spouse to want to take action to help. Perhaps the most powerful approach is to just be there for the person, show acceptance and concern, and listen without being judgmental or giving advice. Allow your spouse to talk about the trauma only if he or she would like to and encourage additional support from family, friends, and faith and community resources. Encouraging healthy living, such as attention to diet, exercise, and refraining from smoking and excessive use of alcohol, is important. It would also be a good time to plan relaxing enjoyable leisure time activities.
Take some time to educate yourself about trauma, PTSD, and recovery and healing. Learning about what your spouse may be going through will help you and your family to understand better and be more supportive. Remember to take care of your own physical and mental health as well.
Why do some people get PTSD after a traumatic event and others don't?
Studies have found that in fact most people recover and do not develop PTSD after exposure to a major traumatic event. However some people find themselves feeling worse as time passes and experience the symptoms of PTSD. Several factors before and after a traumatic event seem to increase the likelihood of PTSD. For example, the risk is greater when the traumatic event is more severe, violent, occurs over a longer period of time, or involves harm to oneself or loss of a loved one. Being around reminders of the traumatic event can also increase the risk. In general women are more likely than men and younger people more likely than older to experience PTSD. People who had early childhood emotional problems, especially exposure to traumatic events are more susceptible, as are people who suffer from chronic medical or psychiatric illness.
What's the difference between a normal reaction to a traumatic event and PTSD?
People react to experience of trauma in a variety of ways, such as sadness, irritability and confusion. In the immediate aftermath of a major traumatic event most people complain of stress, difficulty concentrating, sleeping, or getting along with others. With PTSD, the troubling symptoms worsen, affect social and work functioning, and persist longer than a month. If you or a loved one are struggling to cope with the effects of a trauma it would be useful to seek professional help.