By Marilyn DeSouza
Usually, people associate post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with military experiences in a war zone, but it’s not just about the military. In fact there might be more people experiencing PTSD in crowed inner city communities.
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder is an anxiety disorder caused by a person living through (witnessing or experiencing) a terrible experience which is very frightening. Such major events are often violent (called traumatic). Events that can cause post-traumatic stress disorder include:
- being raped or sexually abused
- experiencing violence in the home (domestic violence)
- being a victim of a violent crime
- being involved in a war/combat
- being in a car or plane crash
- being in a hurricane or tornado
- being in a fire
- observing major events like those above, plus
- child abuse
- street violence
- homicide or suicide
Usually within three months of the terrible event, the person begins to repeatedly re-live the event. However, some people don’t begin to relive the event until years later.
The signs or symptoms which the person develops may include:
- nightmares or flashbacks
- inability to escape memories of the event
- irritability and outbursts of anger
- violent feelings and behavior
- intense distress on exposure to reminders of the event
- withdrawal from situations that might lead to reminders
People of color who live in low-income communities may be at increased risk, because of higher rates of violence. The affected person is usually haunted with intense fear, horror or a feeling of helplessness. Symptoms usually appear within one month after the event, and may include depression.
Treatment involves behavioral therapy, anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medications, and psychotherapy. Of these, supportive psychotherapy is especially important because of the intense anxiety associated with post-traumatic stress disorder. The therapist assures the person of the validity of his response, and yet encourages recall of his or her memories during behavioral therapy sessions, as a part of the recovery process.
For more information, you may contact the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) by calling 1-88-88-ANXIETY or 1-888-826-9438.
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Best of Health – Physically, Mentally and Spiritually, www.healthpowerforminorities.com