June is known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Awareness Month. We have seen PTSD portrayed in the movies or on Grey’s Anatomy as the post combat war veteran, struggling with flashbacks and night terrors. The reality is that PTSD impacts a wide range of individuals, who may be struggling without really understanding the complexities of the disorder. My goal as a therapist and as a mother is to provide some insight and education around PTSD in hopes that those among can get the help that they deserve. First things first, in order to have PTSD, you have to experience trauma right?
How do you define trauma of PTSD?
Trauma can include many experiences from childhood to adulthood. Physical abuse, sexual abuse, extreme poverty, car accidents, natural disasters are all examples of trauma. It is common for moms who have experienced a traumatic birth to even experience PTSD symptoms. Trauma is hard to define as everyone experiences life differently. It is important to remember that not everyone who has experienced a trauma will experience PTSD. In my experience as a therapist, it is common for individuals (and especially mothers) to minimize their experiences as “not a big deal” when in reality they are experiencing PTSD. Mothers are the caretakers. We are the strong one who help others, not typically the ones who need help.
What are the symptoms of PTSD?
PTSD can have a variety of symptoms but some of the common marked behaviors can include:
- Flashbacks or intrusive distressing memories of the event
- A physical reaction to something that can trigger these memories (increased heart rate, labored breathing, panic attack symptoms, sweating)
- Avoidance of things that can remind you of the stressing event
- Irritable behavior
- Distance from others or withdrawn behavior
These symptoms are in no way intended for self-diagnosis but they may provide you insight as to what is common with PTSD. If you are reading these and thinking to yourself “Well, maybe” I encourage you to talk to someone about it. These symptoms can really interfere with your ability to care for others, connect with your support, and even enjoy doing things you once loved. You deserve a better quality of life and you deserve support!
Help is Available
Seeking assistance from a licensed counselor is the best plan for treatment if you think you may be or a loved one is struggling. A counselor can provide you with a diagnosis as well as assist you in the process of healing. Look for a counselor who specializes in trauma. Treating trauma has various techniques and means to help someone work through their trauma.