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PTSD, Suicide, and the Importance of Understanding

Updated on March 3, 2018

More Common Than You May Think

When someone says "PTSD" or "Post Traumatic Stress Disorder," what comes to mind? Most people seem to first think of military veterans, or homeless men by the side of the road, left behind by the country and society that they risked their lives for. According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, between 11 and 20% of military veterans suffer from PTSD. (1) It's a serious, and ever growing problem.

Did you know that PTSD can be cause by many other things, as well? Many people suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder because of childhood abuse, sexual abuse, domestic violence, and many other serious situations.

PTSD is characterized by life changing, and often debilitating side effects, such as symptoms of depression, hyper- sensitivity, insomnia, night terrors and nightmares, hyper-awareness, suicidal ideation, and self destructive and irrational behavior. The word "trigger" gets thrown around a lot these days, and it's become a joke of sorts among internet culture. But traumatic triggers are a very real thing, and can send people suffering from PTSD into serious, even life threatening emotional breakdowns. These triggers are usually things that remind people - even very subtley - of the traumatic experience that they endured.

Responses, Reactions, Rejection, and Regret

It's very easy to accept that someone you know or love has PTSD. You can recognize that they get sad sometimes, sometimes they cry for what seems like no reason. They may talk to you about how they're having a hard day, or hard week, because they can't sleep or stop the flashbacks. But it seems like most people really don't recognize the reality of the illness.

Sometimes, a trigger can flip what I refer to as the "panic switch" and send people into a state of temporary insanity. For example, an individual who suffers PTSD from an instance in which they were restrained, held down, or tied up, may react violently and aggressively if they're being restrained. This is because their brain recognizes it as a life or death situation, and every part of their mind and body thinks that they truly need to fight for their life. Even if from the outside, it doesn't seem to be the case.

Afterward, that individual who truly didn't have any control over their reactions or behavior is demonized, and has to suffer for it. If they've been living with this illness for long enough, they're probably used to it. Suicide rates are extremely high among sufferers of PTSD, according to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. Aside from the hopelessness that comes from feeling you have no control over your life, and sometimes yourself, another factor in this is social stigma.

Do you or someone you know suffer from PTSD?

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Understanding

People often leave their friends and loved ones behind after they have a bad episode, and this only compounds the feeling of loneliness that rules over these peoples' lives. While it's fair to refuse to associate with people who make your life more difficult, or who have had a hand in events that you don't like. But it's important to recognize and try to be understanding of these issues, and that these people are suffering. The true key to healing is understanding.

If you know someone who is suffering from PTSD and needs help, especially if you think it's having a negative affect on others, try to discuss the issue with them. See if they would like a hand in recieving help. Sometimes, all it takes is knowing that someone cares and would be willing to wait at the mental health clinic with them.

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1: https://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/PTSD-overview/basics/how-common-is-ptsd.asp

© 2018 Yamuna Hrodvitnir

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    • Dr Billy Kidd profile image

      Dr Billy Kidd 2 months ago from Sydney, Australia

      Yamuna, The public just no idea. It's reported simply as startle response and reliving the bad experience. But as you've indicated, PTSD is so much more.

    • Yamuna Hrodvitnir profile image
      Author

      Yamuna Hrodvitnir 2 months ago from USA, West Coast

      Thank you so much for your input, Billy Kidd. I appreciate it a great deal. The agoraphobic response is something I'm extremely familiar with. I wasn't even sure that it was a symptom, but it does make sense. I regularly delete my facebook account, and nearly have a panic attack if someone tries to get a hold of me. Which leads to myself sitting in the dark for sometimes two weeks at a time, not answering knocks on the door, and refusing to even turn my phone on.

      It's another thing that people really don't seem to understand.

    • Dr Billy Kidd profile image

      Dr Billy Kidd 2 months ago from Sydney, Australia

      Yauma,

      Very good explanation of PTSD. The "panic switch" is real. Sometimes people become agoraphobic, afraid to leave home and face the possibility of another episode.

      As you know, there is no quick fix or magic pill. I've noticed that if a person recognize a symptom coming on they can tell themselves, "It's only in my mind." Then refocus on something else. This slows down the issue by not reinforcing the brain connection and stopping it from becoming stronger. Unfortunately, this comes later than sooner and takes time. Why? The "panic switch" is so strong and so powerful that it can completely take over the situation. It can actually create a hallucination. Like for instance the client who would look out the window at night and see a man in the bushes. No man is ever there but it caused her to relive her abusive situation.

    • fefetama profile image

      Elthea Jacobs 2 months ago from Fairfax VA

      so true.. its really badly debilitating and people just dont understand that its a really bad disability

    • Yamuna Hrodvitnir profile image
      Author

      Yamuna Hrodvitnir 2 months ago from USA, West Coast

      No good. I'm sorry to hear that. I know how hard it can be trying to maintain a normal life when dealing with ptsd. I for one... Am not very good at it.

      But I'm glad to hear that that I haven't misrepresented the illness or anything. I love to get feedback from people with real experience.

    • Virginia Lea profile image

      Virginia Davis 2 months ago from Navarre, Florida

      This is so true. I suffer PTSD due to child abuse. It is not fun at all.

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