PTSD stands for post-traumatic stress disorder. We hear about this most when it comes to veterans and active soldiers but any traumatic experience can turn into PTSD including having many people close to you die violently, sexual assault, hearing gunshots on a regular basis and living in a home filled with chaos. It’s natural to feel afraid after a traumatic situation. The problem is when your body continues to respond to that event as if it’s fresh for an extended period of time.

According to the DSM-5 (the diagnostic manual for mental health professionals), to be diagnosed with PTSD you have to exhibit at least six of the following symptoms:

  1. At least one re-experiencing symptom
    • Flashbacks: reliving the trauma over and over, including physical symptoms like a racing heart or sweating
    • Bad dreams
    • Frightening thoughts
  2. At least one avoidance symptom
    • Staying away from places, events, or objects that are reminders of the experience
    • Avoiding thoughts or feelings related to the traumatic event
  3. At least two arousal and reactivity symptoms
    • Being easily startled
    • Feeling tense or “on edge”
    • Having difficulty sleeping, and/or having angry outbursts
  4. At least two cognition and mood symptoms
    • Trouble remembering key features of the traumatic event
    • Negative thoughts about oneself or the world
    • Distorted feelings like guilt or blame
    • Loss of interest in enjoyable activities

Not everyone who lives through a traumatic event will develop PTSD. As a matter of fact most people recover quickly and without any intervention. There’s some risk factors that play a part in whether or not it does develop. Risk factors include “living through dangerous events and traumas, getting hurt, seeing people hurt or killed, childhood trauma, feeling horror and having little to no social support.”

So if you’ve been through a traumatic event, it’s been a while and you’re still not feeling okay what should you do ?

First things first, if you’re feeling too overwhelmed or even suicidal you can immediately text ‘HELP’ to 741741 to speak with a crisis counselor.

Secondly, consider therapy. Here’s a list of black mental health professionals in Dayton and other areas. Making sense of or understanding the event surround the trauma and learning to accept how it changed you can be immensely powerful.

Lastly, avoid stimulants like caffeine. They tend to just make anxiety worse. After anxiety takes off it can easily get out of control and exasperate PTSD symptoms.

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