Knowing and Understanding PTSD

Kris Baydalla Galasso

Something terrifying happens to you. Your heart races. Your palms sweat. You can’t sleep. You don’t want to eat. You can’t get the events of that day out of your mind. Any and all of these are completely normal responses to trauma and would be expected of any one of us. We all experience traumatic life events at some point – so we are all familiar with these physical responses. However, for many of us, particularly our service men and women, the physical responses don’t go away with time. In many cases, they become worse.

For those of us living with PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – the world is an unsafe and scary place. Danger lurks in every corner and we are often unable to trust and unwilling to explore. Many of us find ourselves giving up activities that we once enjoyed because the anxiety and fear keep us trapped in a dark and scary place.

PTSD is a reaction that stems from a trauma. The most common image that many of us call to mind is that of a combat soldier. Our soldier has been overseas, faced combat and is now facing a series of adjustment issues as he or she acclimates to life at home. One of the more common stereotypes that come to mind is a combat veteran having a reaction to fireworks. While yes, the noise of the seasonal display can absolutely trigger memories of traumatic events faced overseas, many veterans face far more commonplace challenges.

Inexplicable anger over seemingly insignificant events – such as road rage over traffic – can be indicative of PTSD. Refusal to attend events with large groups of people or discomfort in public can be another symptom. Flashbacks, nightmares, hyper-vigilance and awareness: all of these and more are the face of PTSD.

PTSD is a family diagnosis. While often just one person is diagnosed, it is the entire family that is impacted. While it may be difficult for a family member to understand the reactions of their loved one, knowing the diagnosis can help ease the transition and treatment process.

Do you or someone you know suffer from PTSD? You are not alone! 1 in 3 veterans suffer from PTSD and there are more resources and treatments available now than ever before. About Face: The National Center for PTSD (https://www.ptsd.va.gov/apps/AboutFace/videos/topics.html?topic=2) is full of helpful information for servicemen and women, veterans and families.