Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Physical injuries caused by trauma are often quite easy to fix. Bones can be splinted, deep wounds can be bandaged and infections can be attacked at the source. In a few weeks, a person’s body can knit back together, leaving behind only faint scars on the surface of the skin. People with terrible injuries like this are often nursed to health with patience and kindness, and they’re encouraged to rest and heal. The people around them help to make that healing possible.
Beneath the surface of the skin, however, a different kind of injury may also be blossoming, as some kinds of trauma cause a psychic pain that’s slow to heal. People with these concerns also need understanding, nursing and healing, but they might also feel pressured to wipe away their memories and stuff down their feelings. If they don’t change course, they could develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a mental health issue that could lead to a variety of very serious health consequences.
Common Causes Of PTSD
PTSD is triggered by an event that is so catastrophic that the memories simply can’t be processed or forgotten. The person might feel as though death was near, or that the death of another was happening in a way that the witness couldn’t prevent. Feelings of helplessness, terror and hopelessness are common, during PTSD-producing episodes, and these strong sensations are hard for the brain to forget or deal with.
PTSD is most closely associated with wars, particularly in armed conflicts that result in terrible injuries and deaths. Soldiers might participate in attacks that seem reasonable in the heat of the fight, but they might be left with guilt or dismay about the deaths they caused. Soldiers might also form close relationships with one another, and they might be forced to see their friends die right before their eyes. Soldiers might also see things during their tours that are absolutely inexplicable, and the memories of these incidents can seem to stick with them long after they return home. The number of soldiers who have PTSD is hard to pin down, as many refuse to discuss the issue, but most experts agree that the numbers are high.
Civilians aren’t immune to the effects of PTSD, however, and many people who are living what seem to be placid and serene lives can develop symptoms when they’re exposed to a sudden and terrible episode. A study in the journal PLOS One, for example, suggests that one person in four who survives a stroke develops PTSD in the months that follow the episode. As the stroke took hold, these people likely felt terror and helplessness, and the memories of those brief moments might stick with them. Asthma attacks, heart attacks and other sudden illnesses could also cause PTSD to take hold. Sudden health attacks are just so scary that they tend to cause longstanding damage
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