PTSD: Every Day Like War

August is the month when members of the armed forces celebrate several professional holidays at once. Many media outlets focus specifically on how the military celebrates their holidays. We would like to talk about a problem that many of them have faced, and for which they rarely receive qualified treatment – post-traumatic stress disorder.          

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychological problem faced by people who have experienced events that are beyond normal life experience: hostilities, natural disasters, serious car or plane crashes, sexual violence, cruelty.   

Psychological and medical treatment for people with this disorder was first developed in the United States after the Vietnam War. Then a lot of men returned to the country, who lost their comrades, saw death and cruelty, survived captivity, and received physical injuries. They found it difficult to adapt to everyday life, their families fell apart, they began to abuse alcohol and drugs.          

While military action is one of the most common causes of PTSD, there are others. The military are reluctant to share their experiences, so we publish the girl’s experiences – her disorder arose in response to psychological trauma, mental disorder of loved ones. But the manifestations of PTSD in all people will be the same:          

My trauma began a long time ago, as a child. I grew up in St. Petersburg with my mother and grandmother. They’re both sick: from grandmother schizophrenia, but have moms schizoaffective disorder. At first everything was fine, but since no one treated them, over time they only got worse. Their state is strongly influenced my life, although I am this and not realize that the older I get, the more progressed disease mom and grandma. My PTSD is the result of years of living with people with serious disorders.                       

Lyubov Melnikova, interview with Wonderzine magazine

What are the symptoms of PTSD?

Nightmares, unpleasant thoughts, memories of difficult events in the past arise in every person. Is it PTSD ?    

1. Re-living a traumatic event

In cases of PTSD, memories, thoughts, images come in the form of flashbacks. They feel much more real than ordinary memories – a person often perceives them as reality. Some experts attribute flashbacks to episodes of clouding . They can be triggered by a real-time event : for example, the sound of firecrackers or the crashing of a truck can trigger a flashback of hostilities in a former soldier.          

Many people say that PTSD is about flashbacks. This is true and very unpleasant. Flashback can cause anything: for example, you go to the store, and something – color or light – throws you back, you stand with a pack of pasta in your hands and feel horror, “falling” into the past. These are very vivid, intense memories, as if you are reliving a moment from the past.              

Lyubov Melnikova, interview with Wonderzine magazine

2. Avoidance

Since flashbacks are very painful for a person, he will try to avoid events, situations, people, things that can cause them . For example, a soldier avoids crowded places. The person will also avoid intrusive thoughts about the event, such as overloading themselves with work and responsibilities.    

During difficult times, I worked without interruption – for example, I replaced colleagues on the weekends. At home, I only slept, yes , and the house itself at me was – I have all the time to move. Even now, all my things fit into four boxes and a suitcase, and only now I am beginning to get used to the fact that home is the place where I feel good and calm.                   

Lyubov Melnikova, interview with Wonderzine magazine

3. Negativism

By comparison with the way in which a person was before the injury, he will celebrate that became more “negative”. Often people report that they have more negative thoughts or images that occur to them and that they often feel worse emotionally than they used to. For military personnel, the following experiences are typical:      

  • emotional numbness – what used to cause emotions now does not cause any reaction;  
  • shame and guilt that something happened to his colleagues that he could have prevented (from his point of view);     
  • anxiety and fear due to the feeling that the world and the people in it are dangerous and unreliable.    

4. Hypersensitivity

People with PTSD are always “on the alert”, do not find a place, they are always waiting. This leads to problems with concentration, the rapid emergence of anger and aggression, exhaustion.      

5. Other mental disorders

In people with PTSD develop other problems: depression, alcoholism and drug abuse, self-injurious behavior, aggression towards others, suicidal behavior.    

I started taking drugs, trying to get away from the problem, then, having stopped taking them , I drank heavily. Then there was a toxic relationship. Then there was an eating disorder. All this self-destruction was an attempt to stop thinking about the suffering that my daily life caused me.     

Lyubov Melnikova, interview with Wonderzine magazine

Is PTSD Treated ? 

It is not worth making a diagnosis based on one description . But if most of the above symptoms are similar to what you or your loved one are experiencing, you should contact a psychologist or psychotherapist and seek the opinion of a specialist.       

Studies show that without treatment, PTSD not only does not go away , but worsens, including due to secondary problems. Therefore, the best thing you can do is find a qualified therapist who works with this problem and enlist his support.        

Psychotherapeutic (for example, prolonged exposure, DPDH, cognitive therapy) and drug approaches to rehabilitation (for example, taking SSRIs – antidepressants of the latest generation) have been developed .   

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