People can develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after they experienced, witnessed, or been confronted with a horrible event such as a car accident, a rape, fighting in a war, or a national disaster.
Having a strong reaction to trauma is completely normal and expected, but PTSD involves an overwhelming reaction of the body's normal psychological defenses against stress. So after the trauma, your body has a hard time coping with regular stressful situations. Symptoms of PTSD include:
- Re-experiencing the traumatic event (daydreaming, flashbacks, and nightmares)
- Emotional detachment - the person avoids any thoughts, activities, places, people, or situations that may be associated with the traumatic event. They become numb and have trouble functioning normally because of it.
- Jumpiness - overreacting to loud noises or small things. They may also be constantly looking around to make sure there's no danger. They may also have trouble sleeping or staying asleep in this high state of awareness.
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As if that's not bad enough, studies now show that people with PTSD may also experience physical symptoms. Years after the traumatic event, many people with PTSD developed vascular problems (from high blood pressure) such as varicose veins and swelling. They also reported more overall pain, less energy, headaches, digestive problems, and limitations on daily activities due to physical problems.
Dear's Advice: There is obviously no prevention for PTSD since traumatic events are unpredictable, but if you have been a victim of a traumatic experience, talk to someone. Many therapists are specialized in this field and can offer a listening ear and helpful ways to cope with your fears.