PTSD Patterns

It’s not just combat veterans who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Anyone who has survived a horrific shock or lived through years of subtle emotional hazing or overt physical abuse can develop the symptom patterns of:

Flashbacks—the trauma is relived over and over and includes physical symptoms such as elevated heart rate and perspiration
Frightening thoughts
Easily triggered and reactive by any event that reminds the person of the trauma

Staying away from places, events or objects that are reminders of the experience
Feeling emotionally numb
Feeling strong guilt, depression or worry
Losing interest in activities that were enjoyable in the past
Having trouble remembering the dangerous event

Being easily startled
Feeling tense or “on edge”
Having difficulty sleeping, and/or having angry outbursts
Constant, low-level tension that is so familiar as to become ‘normal’
Difficulty concentrating or learning issues such as ADD and ADHD

It’s a normal coping mechanism to have some of these symptoms after a traumatic or dangerous experience. But generally they go away after a few weeks or months. When symptoms last more than a few weeks, then it becomes a pattern that is generally known as PTSD. It’s difficult to diagnose because sometimes it doesn’t show up for weeks or months. In other cases, when there has been any kind of abuse for years, it starts off as such a subtle thing and only gradually becomes overt that the symptoms of PTSD are not obvious either. The bottom line is, if you suffer from any of these patterns, you can learn some simple skills to work with your own issues. Practices that have proven results. Things you can do for yourself in the middle of the night when there is no help to be had.

Why do some people develop symptoms and others do not?

The risk factors include growing up in a chaotic, dysfunctional family. Moving a lot as a child. Living with mental illness or alcoholism, or addiction. Seeing people be violent with each other or seeing an accident or act of violence on a more massive scale such as 9/11. Having little support growing up or as an adult. Having no time to process, but moving on without grieving. Living with constant work stress or abuse at home. Financial insecurity adds more stress, or loosing a job, a home, a spouse, or a child. Feeling trapped in any way adds to the mix.

Why do some people learn to bounce back while others are less resilient?

The people who manage to pull out from the pattern have been shown to have many traits in common across several newer fields of study that have examined how people cope with adversity. Those who find a support system tend to do better. Those who share their emotions on paper do better, or with others who have the experience from life or from training to understand. Those who can examine their thought processes and develop the detachment to work objectively with their thinking do better. Those who find ways to understand what to do with fear, anger and blame, do eventually come out of it. And those who develop coping strategies for releasing, relaxing, and moving on do better. Ultimately, those who can work with their attitude and find ways to be teachable do better. And many who find ways to use the emotional charge to express creativity, in any art form manage, often, to transmute their experiences into something universal that others can benefit from.
Developing those kinds of coping skills is what the Resilience Zone is all about. If this speaks to you, you’ve come to the right place.

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