In 1980, the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders recognized Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a disorder with certain symptoms that could be diagnosed reliably. At the time, this was pivotal for mental health; war in Vietnam had just ended and this addition supported soldiers facing rejection from service, peers, society, and judgments of being considered weak. Today, PTSD is recognized as psychobiological mental disorder that can affect survivors of combat experience, terrorist attacks, natural disasters, serious accidents, assault/abuse, or have experienced a sudden major emotional loss. There is a typical response when feeling the need to protect yourself from feeling danger known as “fight or flight.” Fighting might be lashing out in efforts to defend yourself, whereas, flight could be fleeing the scene in panic. A series of emotions will surface when dealing with trauma, but usually you recover from symptoms naturally. Anyone whose symptoms remain or worsen may be diagnosed with PTSD. People with continued symptoms may feel in danger even when they are not. For example, a 2019 film, Beats, was released during PTSD Awareness Month. August and his mother continue to suffer from a traumatic family event. August is a teenager living in Chicago, whose older sister was murdered in front of him one late night; he too was shot. The symptoms he suffers from keep him inside his home in fear of being a victim to homicide, or losing another person he cares for to homicide. You can watch the movie on your Netflix account. (see movie trailer below)
According to the Mayo Clinic, these are four major symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder:
Intrusive memories - Recurrent, unwanted distressing memories of the traumatic event; Flashbacks; Nightmares; Severe emotional distress or physical reactions to reminders of traumatic event.
Avoidance - Attempts to avoid thinking or talking about the traumatic event; Avoiding places, activities, or people that remind you of traumatic event.
Negative changes in thinking and mood - Negative thoughts about yourself, other people, or the world; Hopelessness about the future; Memory problems, including not remembering important aspects of the event; Difficulty maintaining close relationships; Feeling detached from family and friends; Lack of interest in activities you once enjoyed; Difficulty experiencing positive emotions; Feeling emotionally numb.
Changes in physical and emotional reactions - Being easily startled or frightened; Always being on guard for danger; Self-destructive behavior; Trouble sleeping; Trouble concentrating; Irritability, anger outbursts, or aggressive behavior; Overwhelming guilt or shame. ***For children 6 or younger, symptoms may include: Re-enacting the traumatic event or aspects of the traumatic event through play; Nightmares that may or may not include aspects of the traumatic event.
Seeking support and assistance can help prevent common symptoms from developing into PTSD. Find friends and family members you are comfortable having discussions with. Advice from them can help assure your security and safety, and even steer you away from the unhealthy ways to cope with stress, such as drugs/alcohol. Although, the month of June is recognized as PTSD Awareness Month, be sure to celebrate June 27, 2019 as PTSD Awareness Day. Please feel free to contact us at (909) 804-8877 or firstname.lastname@example.org, if you or someone you know is suffering from trauma symptoms.