Last week, the nation celebrated a day for which thousands of men sacrificed. Across the world today, men and women still fight for America at the expense of more than just their lives.
Post-traumatic stress disorder is an anxiety disorder developed by those who have undergone or witnessed a traumatic event, according to the Mental Health America organization. Veterans are just one group known to develop this disorder.
“During the past year, many communities across the U.S. have experienced devastating tragedies – Hurricane Sandy, the shootings in Newtown, the Boston Marathon bombings and, most recently, cases of severe weather in the Plains states that have left many (people) reeling. While most people are amazingly resilient following trauma, for some, the emotional toll from these events can last much longer,” stated a Mental Health America of Aiken County press release.
After experiencing something life-altering, it doesn’t really leave you, according to Lisa Tindal, Mental Health America of Aiken County executive director.
“It will always be a part of your makeup,” she said. “Certain things will (just) trigger it.”
If you keep mentally reliving the incident through nightmares or flashbacks, feel tense or alert or avoid any reminders of the occurrence, you might have PTSD, according to the Mental Health America.
Having symptoms like panic attacks, headaches, stomach pain and muscle cramps; not trusting others or functioning properly on a daily basis; turning to drugs or alcohol or thinking about suicide are other warning signs. Those signs can be hard to cope with.
“It gets embedded in you,” Tindal said, based off the clients she has seen.
Taking an online, anonymous survey could be the first step in determining if you have PTSD, the Mental Health America of Aiken County release stated. The agency has such a tool available on its website through its Education & Advocacy page.
Once you have completed the test, a list of local resources pop up, Tindal said. Those resources are designed to help you get treated for PTSD or any other form of mental illness.
Methods of PTSD treatment often include medicine that help one sleep better and lower one’s anxiety, depression and other symptoms; support groups and psychotherapy sessions exposure and family therapy. Mental Health America also recommends take care of one’s health through regular exercise and good nutrition, managing stress, keeping a journal and volunteering.
Support groups are located in Aiken and Augusta, according to the Mental Health America of Aiken County website. Every month, the center hosts a Suicide Loss Bereavement Group for those dealing with losing someone due to suicide.
Some people who have come to the meetings have or have gone through PTSD, Tindal said. People who finish out their treatments often can move past their PTSD, according to the Mental Health America.
Seeing or hearing the trigger like “the sound of a gunshot won’t ever be good for them, but it won’t totally paralyze them,” Tindal said, based on her experiences.
Studies are being done to see if PTSD can be prevented. However, Petra M. Skeffington, Dr. Clare S. Rees and Dr. Robert Kane conclude in their article published in the Journal of Trauma & Dissociation “the field of PTSD prevention is in its infancy, and the advancement of evidence in this area still faces several challenges.” The article was printed online on June 24.
PTSD can affect all ages, and more women than men tend to develop it, according to the National Center for PTSD.
Experiments led by Kerry Ressler, a psychiatrist and molecular neurobiologist at Emory University in Atlanta, showed that a peptide in the body could be the reason for this, according to Science Magazine.
The team of researchers found that women with high levels of pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide were more likely to show signs of the PTSD than women with low levels of the peptide. A variation encoded with the receptor for the peptide was also tested with the results that women with the variation were more prone to develop PTSD than men, according to the article.
Ressler theorizes the receptor’s link with the estrogen hormone could be the reason.
“Estrogen, the primary female sex hormone, may amplify the effects of stress. The gene for the PACAP receptor can be turned on and off by estrogen,” Greg Miller wrote in the article.
For more information on this study, visit www.news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2011/02/a-marker-for-ptsd-in-women.html.
For more information on Mental Health America of Aiken County, visit www.mha-aiken.org.
Stephanie Turner has a hand on all areas of production for the Aiken Standard, where she reports, edits and designs pages.
She graduated in July 2012 with a journalism degree from Valdosta State University and lives with her family in Evans, Ga.