Q: What is (PTSD) Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?

A: Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a severe anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to any event that results in psychological trauma. This event may involve the threat of death to oneself or to someone else, or to one's own or someone else's physical, sexual, or psychological integrity, overwhelming the individual's ability to cope. As an effect of psychological trauma, PTSD is less frequent and more enduring than the more commonly seen post traumatic stress (also known as acute stress response). Diagnostic symptoms for PTSD include re-experiencing the original trauma(s) through flashbacks or nightmares, avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma, and increased arousal—such as difficulty falling or staying asleep, anger, and hypervigilance. Formal diagnostic criteria (both DSM-IV-TR and ICD-10) require that the symptoms last more than one month and cause significant impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

Q: Is PTSD only military related?

A: NO! Absolutely not. PTSD is not only combat related. PTSD can develop in anyone who has experienced a severe trauma. Military PTSD is what many people hear most about. However, PTSD can also be caused by car accidents, natural disasters, sexual trauma, an attack/assault, childhood abuse, abuse, major surgery, many breast cancer patients experience it, a death of a loved one, and much more. Anything related to a severe trauma.

Q: Can someone who suffers from PTSD have other psychological medical issues as well?

A: Yes, there are many things that can also develop with PTSD such as depression and dissociation, along with other things, it all depends on the person and what they have experienced.

Q: Can one who has PTSD have physical problems?

A: Yes. Even though PTSD is a psychological condition, physical medical issues can be linked to PTSD through a variety of factors due to the emotional and physical strain it puts on one. Ones with PTSD are also higher at risk for engaging in health-compromising behaviors such as drinking or drug use. They also experience a higher state of anxiety and stress which can effect the body physically. Physical health conditions which may occur include things such as heart-related problems and disease, weight issues from medications, body aches sometimes chronic pain, digestive problem and disease, respiratory system-related problems and disease, and diabetes.

Q: Can children develop PTSD?

A: Yes. PTSD does not occur in any certain age bracket, anyone who has experienced an extreme trauma can develop PTSD at any age.

Q: Can a spouse or loved one of someone with PTSD develop PTSD themselves?

A: Yes, it is common for family members and caregivers of one with PTSD to develop what is known as Secondary PTSD or even reactivated PTSD if they have had severe traumas themselves at some point in time. Watching and being there for a loved one with PTSD can cause what is known as caregiver burden, even though we don't view it as a burden, it does bring on a lot of extra stress and pressure that one normally would not experience.

Q: Should one that believes they might have PTSD get help?

A: ABSOLUTELY! PTSD is not something to try to handle on your own! Many times not reaching for help can lead to worse symptoms of PTSD and cause your life to become very unmanageable. Getting help to control it is urgent so you can continue with as much of a normal lifestyle as possible, and the sooner the better.

Q: Is support needed for PTSD?

A: YES! Having a good support system in place can make a huge change for the better in your life! There are many forms of therapy which can help, support groups, online support groups, social media pages, and family support is very much needed! Anyone that knows someone with PTSD also needs to educate themselves to what it and it's symptoms are so they understand what is correct support and what ways are not correct.

Q: If someone has PTSD, can't they just snap out of it or stop thinking about what happened?

A: NO! There is no way to just snap out of it or get over it. PTSD is not something you can just suck up and move on with. The more one tries to do this, the worse their PTSD can become. PTSD is a very serious condition and needs medical attention, again, the sooner the better. Many of PTSD symptoms come in the form of nightmares or terrors, these can not be controlled by a person and causes much sleep loss, high anxiety, and many other things which will effect the person in a negative way. Flashbacks can also happen, where they do not know where they are or who is actually there. When these happen they believe they are reliving the trauma they experienced... and a very real to them. All of the symptoms of PTSD combined make it impossible for one to just get over it.

Q: Why is my husband/spouse acting like a person I don't know anymore?

A: The person you know is still there, they are just masked by what PTSD causes. In many cases they may also be experiencing dissociation which can effect the memory, the way they act, their morals and/or values in life, and many other things. If your spouse is showing more symptoms then the list of known PTSD symptoms, and not acting like themselves, you might very well have dissociation at hand as well.

Q: Can a person with PTSD be suicidal or have suicidal thoughts?

A: YES! When one develops PTSD it changes the way they view themselves, the way they feel, they can experience emotional numbness, start having problems with work and/or relationships, they don't want to be around others, they start feeling as if they are a burden to others and you would be better off without them... There are many things with PTSD that can cause one to want to end their life. Those thoughts and feelings are very real and do not need to be ignored or brushed off! However!!! Having PTSD does not mean life is not worth living! With help and proper support one with PTSD can learn to live with their PTSD and still function and have a fulfilling life. PTSD is not easy by any means, but you can survive it! Don't ever give up on yourself and your loved ones! Ask for help!

Q: Is a person with PTSD violent or abusive?

A: Sometimes they can be if their symptoms are not controlled correctly and/or they have not reached out for help. However, not everyone with PTSD is violent. This is one of the largest misunderstandings with PTSD.Many with PTSD have what is known as survivor's guilt, where they have lived through the trauma but someone else did not. One's who experience this are seldom harmful to others, and if they were ever a harm to anyone it would be to themselves. PTSD can bring flashbacks and nightmares/terrors, which could be harmful to others depending on what their trauma was that to them they are re-living through these forms. If one is experiencing flashbacks or nightmares/terrors, it is best not to touch them until they are grounded back to the current time and place. When violence does happen in these situations it is not instinctually done and normally only happens when the person harmed does not understand what is happening and responds in a way that would be threatening to the one experiencing the flashback or nightmare. PTSD does also bring times of rage and/or anger. Using coping skills and/or therapy can help the one with PTSD control these so they do not become a harm to others.

Q: How should I act around someone with PTSD?

A: Just be yourself! ;) The one thing that helps add to other symptoms of a person with PTSD, causing them to not want to be around others is the fact that you feel you have to treat them differently. The fact is the greatest help you could do for one with PTSD is don't treat them any differently then you normally would. To them, they just want to be "normal". And to be straight up honest, if you are getting to see them then it's probably one of their good days so enjoy it! Normally one with PTSD will isolate themselves from others when it's a not so good day. So if you are getting to spend time with them, be yourself and enjoy your time with them! There are things to say and not to say to one who has PTSD, you can find those on my journal page of this web site.

Q: Our relationship has changed, can PTSD cause this?

A: I hate to say it, but yes. The divorce/separation rate for PTSD is extremely high. There are many relationships in serious trouble or heading there. You have to take into account all of the symptoms that comes to one that has PTSD, the fact that they are trying to still live life while managing those, trying to figure out who they are themselves with all of the changes they experience, then juggling a relationship and many times a family/children in there as well. That's a lot! Now, this does not mean all cases are going to end in separation! It means both of you have to remember that your situation has changed and you have to learn how to adapt to it and learn things that will or can help. Make an effort to learn everything you can about PTSD, remember to communicate and try not to take things personally... sometimes PTSD can lash out with some really nasty words, when this happens, remember that person that loves you IS still there and know that the nasty words are coming from PTSD and not always meant as how they truly feel about you. Take time to do things together away from everything else, even if it's just watching a good movie or taking a walk together. Get therapy for both of you and/or separately, sometimes in many cases this is needed to get your relationship back on track, accept when you need it and get it. There are many things that can help hold a relationship together, use them! My journal page also has a section on relationships that could be helpful for more information. You will have changes, and some being huge changes to your relationship, but do your best and then some to remember that your relationship is worth it and you two have to try! Never just give up.

Q: Why is everything now on me as far as responsibilities since he/she has PTSD?

A: It's a hard fact of many who suffer from PTSD that they have great difficulty with decision making, managing money, remembering things to do, etc. Their brain can hit overload. Not all cases are like this however, some can still manage everything or most things for themselves. However there are a great number who can't. When this happens, it's one of those life changes that you have to learn to accept so things get done and life flows as smooth as possible. When one with PTSD can help out, then by all means let them, but when they can't then you step to the plate and do what you have to do.It's not a time for finger pointing or arguments.

Q: What do I do if my loved one with PTSD becomes physically abusive to myself or our children?

A: If they are to the point where they have lashed out with physical abuse, then you have no choice but to leave the situation. At least until they cool down and things can be sorted out. Physical abuse is not acceptable, and they must get help or help brought to them if they are lashing out in this manner. There are many things that can help, get help.

Q: Should I leave my PTSD partner for the kids' sake?

A: Before taking children away from a parent just because they now have PTSD, how about learning what can be done to save the family! Children can grow up in a home with PTSD and be "normal". It is possible. I myself have 2 children that have done just that. The big key is working together as a family and also educating children on an age appropriate level about PTSD. This prevents children from holding things against the PTSD parent, example: if they can't attend a school event, or the parent stays in the bedroom away from the children a lot.
Kids are smart and they learn very fast and accept things better then most adults do. The fact is, a parent is a parent and will have a legal right to the children rather you are there or not in most cases. So if your marriage and family are worth saving then try before just "taking the kids away".

There are many questions that come with learning about PTSD and what life is like with it. For more in depth information please refer to my journal page of this web site. All topics are in categories for easier reference.

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