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Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD
People of any age exposed to an overwhelmingly stressful situation can develop a condition known as Post-traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD. Because of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, many of our soldiers are now returning home with PTSD and, it seems likely that many of the citizens of those countries are also suffering from the same condition. However, one does not have to be in a war zone in order to develop the symptoms of PTSD. Even children who have suffered significant abuse or prolonged neglect can develop PTSD.
Recently, and right here in Connecticut, we have had a number of events stressful enough that symptoms of PTSD could develop in those who experienced or witnessed them. Perhaps you remember the recent the murder of the star football player at UCONN or the murder of the student in a Wesleyan campus bookstore. If you or someone you cared about witnessed these events, they may have developed PTSD in the aftermath.
So what is PTSD, exactly? In general terms, it is a condition that develops when a traumatic event exceeds an individual’s ability to cope with it. There are usually three classifications of symptoms.
Perhaps the most common are symptoms of excessive arousal could be the experiencing of flashbacks of the event, the inability to sleep or to sleep deeply or to be awakened by nightmares, the feeling of constant anxiety or being on guard, being frequently and uncharacteristically angry or have difficulty concentrating.
Less visible but equally common are symptoms that can best be described as symptoms of under arousal like emotional numbness, a loss of interest in life (anhedonia) and depression.
The last cluster of symptoms is best categorized as symptoms of avoidance, like staying away from the place where the traumatic event happened, sometimes to the point where you rarely leave home, or avoiding any thoughts that might lead to remembering what happened. Any and all of these above symptoms can develop following a traumatic experience and sometimes long after the traumatizing event. All these symptoms in a sense are symptoms of emotional dysregulation, in other words, the individual has lost the ability to manage his emotions and needs help in returning to a sense of normalcy. The interventions at The Reynolds Clinic can go a long way to restoring that lost sense of self.