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Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a debilitating condition that follows a terrifying event. Often, people with PTSD have persistent frightening thoughts and memories of their ordeal and feel emotionally numb, especially with people they were once close to. PTSD, once referred to as shell shock or battle fatigue, was first brought to public attention by war veterans, but it can result from any number of traumatic incidents. These include kidnapping, serious accidents such as car or train wrecks, natural disasters such as floods or earthquakes, violent attacks such as a mugging, rape, or torture, or being held captive. The event that triggers it may be something that threatened the person's life or the life of someone close to him or her. Or it could be something witnessed, such as mass destruction after a plane crash. Whatever the source of the problem, some people with PTSD repeatedly relive the trauma in the form of nightmares and disturbing recollections during the day. They may also experience sleep problems, depression, feeling detached or numb, or being easily startled. They may lose interest in things they used to enjoy and have trouble feeling affectionate. They may feel irritable, more aggressive than before, or even violent. Seeing things that remind them of the incident may be very distressing, which could lead them to avoid certain places or situations that bring back those memories. Anniversaries of the event are often very difficult.

PTSD can occur at any age, including childhood. The disorder can be accompanied by depression, substance abuse, or anxiety. Symptoms may be mild or severe--people may become easily irritated or have violent outbursts. In severe cases they may have trouble working or socializing. In general, the symptoms seem to be worse if the event that triggered them was initiated by a person--such as a rape, as opposed to a flood.

Ordinary events can serve as reminders of the trauma and trigger flashbacks or intrusive images. A flashback may make the person lose touch with reality and reenact the event for a period of seconds or hours or, very rarely, days. A person having a flashback, which can come in the form of images, sounds, smells, or feelings, usually believes that the traumatic event is happening all over again.

Not every traumatized person gets full-blown PTSD, or experiences PTSD at all. PTSD is diagnosed only if the symptoms last more than a month. In those who do have PTSD, symptoms usually begin within 3 months of the trauma, and the course of the illness varies. Some people recover within 6 months, others have symptoms that last much longer. In some cases, the condition may be chronic. Occasionally, the illness doesn't show up until years after the traumatic event.

Antidepressants and anxiety-reducing medications can ease the symptoms of depression and sleep problems, and psychotherapy, including cognitive-behavioral therapy, is an integral part of treatment. Being exposed to a reminder of the trauma as part of therapy--such as returning to the scene of a rape--sometimes helps. And, support from family and friends can help speed recovery.

Coexisting Conditions

Many people have a single anxiety disorder and nothing else, but it isn't unusual for an anxiety disorder to be accompanied by another illness, such as depression, an eating disorder, alcoholism, drug abuse, or another anxiety disorder. Often people who have panic disorder or social phobia, for example, also experience the intense sadness and hopelessness associated with depression or become dependent on alcohol. In such cases, these problems will need to be treated as well.


NOTE:- We have a separate forum specifically for related disorders as well as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder CLICK ON:- http://www.depressionforums.org/forums/ind...hp?showforum=34

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  • 2 weeks later...

National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder


Jon KirchmarJIM KIRCHMAR: I've been 18 ever since I've been in Vietnam. And I've been 18 ever since then. I've been fighting a war every day.

SUSAN DENTZER: Jim Kirchmar, age 57, served in Vietnam as a Marine 37 years ago.

He's one of roughly 1 million Vietnam veterans thought to have experienced post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. For years, Kirchmar has battled PTSD's classic symptoms, including flashbacks to the horrors of war.

JIM KIRCHMAR: You can be driving down the road and your wife will say, "Where you at?" You know. "Where'd you go?" You know. "Do you know how fast you're going?" And I'll say, "I'm here," you know. But you don't tell her, "Hey, I just got ambushed, or they just dropped bombs on me" or something.

SUSAN DENTZER: Now, with troops coming home from Iraq, there are concerns that as many may be similarly affected. Pentagon officials say that at least 21 troops have committed suicide since the war began last March. That's despite the fact that teams of mental health professionals have been working with troops in Iraq to help them cope with the stress of combat.

Back in the U.S., more than 3,500 veterans of both the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts have already undergone counseling. They've been seen at a network of veteran's administration centers across the country. The VA's Alfonso Batres, a clinical psychologist and Vietnam army veteran, heads that vet center program.

Alfonso BatresALFONSO BATRES: We're quite concerned about National Guard and Reserve soldiers, the different proportion in this war. We want to be prepared for that population because they're going to be exposed and put in harm's way in a higher number than they ever have before.

A problem with many names

SUSAN DENTZER: Psychiatrist Robert Ursano is an expert in post-traumatic stress disorder at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. Located in Bethesda, Md., it's the military's medical school.

DR. ROBERT URSANO: Throughout time, the responses to war have been called different things. In the Civil War, it was called nostalgia. In World War I, PTSD was called shell-shock. In World War II, it was called combat fatigue. Beginning in the 1980s, we use the term PTSD.

SUSAN DENTZER: Ursano says PTSD is an event-related disorder brought on by traumas ranging from rape to serious motor vehicle accidents. In many people, these stresses somehow alter brain chemistry and produce such PTSD symptoms as nightmares, anxiety, social withdrawal and even depression. Far and away, one of the strongest triggers of PTSD is exposure to combat.

Dr. Robert UrsanoDR. ROBERT URSANO: From World War II, POWs -- prisoners of war -- have been shown to have as high as 50 percent of them having PTSD that might persist for decades and decades. After the Vietnam era, perhaps 35, 38 percent of individuals experienced PTSD, of those who experienced combat exposure.

There have been no large-scale studies of the first Gulf War, but based on the studies that have been done, the rates of PTSD were somewhere between perhaps 7 and 12 percent.

SUSAN DENTZER: As long as there's been combat stress, there's also been a stigma about it in much of the military. Troops who've returned from Iraq with psychological problems were reluctant to speak to us on camera.

So to learn more firsthand about combat veterans and PTSD, we came here, to a veterans' counseling centers in Morgantown, W.Va. It's one of 206 community walk-in centers across the country. Johnny Bragg, a Vietnam vet and trained counselor, directs the center.

Johnny BraggJOHNNY BRAGG: There is no eraser. Nobody goes to war and comes back the same. Ever. It helps when there are people that can relate to them, which are other veterans.

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Giving veterans a safe place to talk

SUSAN DENTZER: Much of the work of the vet centers is simply to get veterans to start talking, often after years when they perceive nobody cared.

VETERAN: I was scared to come down here because of what neighbors would say, et cetera.

Vet CenterSUSAN DENTZER: At Morgantown, Bragg and other counselors lead regular combat rap groups among vets from four wars, including the Korean War and the 1990 operation Desert Storm. Clide Judy, now 82, was an Air Force pilot in World War II. He's still plagued by memories of what happened when the engines failed on a plane he piloted off the cost of Yugoslavia.

CLIDE JUDY: I glided my plane in to about 6,000 feet, gave the order to bail out. One man's chute didn't open up and fell 6,000 feet into the sea to his death. The second person, the helpers heard him hollering for help and thought a shark had gotten him.

SUSAN DENTZER: Judy was eventually rescued by the Navy; some 50 years later and after suffering for all those decades, he was finally diagnosed with PTSD.

What are the pieces that come back to you over and over again?

Clide JudyCLIDE JUDY: Seeing the faces of the oldest men in the crew, Italian waste gunner that his chute didn't open up. I see that fella. I see the other -- the radio operator that got eaten by a shark. It bothers me, and I just try to think, "Well, what could I have done to save the lives of those fellows?"

SUSAN DENTZER: Jim Wolfe is one of many veterans who speak as though the events that traumatized them happened yesterday. Wolfe was a marine in Vietnam when he went on a search and destroy mission to one village.

JIM WOLFE: When I blowed up the village, shrapnel had hit the baby in the chest, and it had a sucking chest wound. It had died, and its mother was screaming and looking at everybody, and I knew I had just did that.

So I felt so bad about it that me and a friend of mine, Larry Slossen, he was my squad team leader, we'd buried the baby and took our boots and cut the shoestrings off and made a cross and everything and buried the baby.

DR. ROBERT URSANO: There is an experience of, when children die, of not only losing a life, but also losing a picture of the future, and I think we all experience that. One way of thinking about PTSD is that it's actually a disorder of forgetting. It's not a problem of remembering; it's that we're unable to forget.

The problems veterans face years later

Photo from warSUSAN DENTZER: Ursano and other PTSD experts say it isn't known why some who experience trauma suffer PTSD, while others don't. It's also not clear why some people recover from PTSD after a number of months, while still others experience the symptoms for years. Most of the vets with PTSD whom we met at Morgantown were long-term sufferers. Many, like Larry Knisell, diagnosed three decades after he served in Vietnam, are taking antidepressant medication.

LARRY KNISELL: I've been on, I'd probably say, 20 different antidepressants and just all of the chlorazipan [ph], the trazodone. I've been through the whole gauntlet.

SUSAN DENTZER: Many of the vets have been in and out hospitals, marriages, drug and alcohol treatment centers.

JIM KIRCHMAR: I medicated myself with alcohol, alcohol, and everything for years. And then I come here and Johnny Bragg said, "Hey, that's not the way you do it."

Veteran at the Vietnam war memorialSUSAN DENTZER: Veterans also told us they'd had to quit their jobs when the suffering became too great. As a result, many now collect roughly $25,000 a year in PTSD-related compensation payments from the VA.

VETERAN: I didn't ask for that check. And if you want to jump in my head and live how I live, I'll give you the check and I'll go back to the coal mines and make my $60,000 a year if I could sleep, if I could get along with people and not get wild and crazy.

SUSAN DENTZER: Morgantown vet center Director Bragg says the similarities between the Iraq conflict and the wars the veterans fought have in many cases worsened their symptoms.

JOHNNY BRAGG: You're starting to hear the phrase "guerrilla war" a whole lot more. The weapons are becoming the same as they were in Vietnam -- rocket-propelled grenades, command-detonated mines, the casualties.

SUSAN DENTZER: Some of the vets told us that watching footage from Iraq had made them suicidal. And that was just the most recent time they've had such impulses.

Did you all have that feeling? Did you all think about committing suicide at one point or another?

VETERAN: Absolutely.

VETERAN: Because we've all been there and done that, and that's what it did to us.

SUSAN DENTZER: The veterans offered this advice for returning troops:

VETERAN: Tell those young guys that are coming back -- sailors, airmen, army, air ... Marines -- help's out there to get. Don't live with it for 30 years in here, because by the time you live with it 30 years in here, you're pretty bad off.

Group of veteransSUSAN DENTZER: And for today's veterans, unlike those of some earlier wars, at least places like the vet centers will now be there to help.

SOURCE :- Department of Defense

The NewsHour Health Unit is funded by a grant from: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

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  • 3 years later...

I am suffering from Sever Major Depression, PTSD, GAD and a mild level of OCD. March 2008 my illiness got so bad that I had to leave my job, I lost my apartment, it resulted in my divorce and eventually I ended up hospitalized, homeless, and starting my life all over. I was lucky, after my brief hospital stay I was transfer to a housing program associated with the hospital and eventually bounced back on my feet. Right now I am in a relationship, the status was engagement but after a recent traumatic experience initiated by my partner our relationship is back to stage one: rebuilding trust.

What happened? halloween day my fiance kicked one of my dogs in the face because it she was "viciously" barking at him and he wanted her to stop and said he felt she was going to bite him. What he seemed to not realize was that my dog was probably scared because he still had his halloween costume still on when he arrived in the door and it most likely scared her. Long story short, I felt that my dogs were in harm way in the house so the next morning I took them to the humane society because I felt it was important that I removed them from his presence.

Since he has known me he knew that I looked forward to the day that I would get my girls again (my ex-husband was taking careof them until I was able to take them on my own). He talked up the neighborhood, the park, the walking paths etc. including the huge the huge fenced in backyard to his house. What he left out was that he really did not want pets in his home. Not because he hates animals but lets just say he gets "rattled" very easily. I have to attempt deep down I saw it but I ingore it because I wanted my dogs back with me, but in the end I made a bad oversight that has now led to me feeling deep sadness and emptiness and well as failure.

Oh I should mention, because I keep pressing the need to talk about the incident things got so far out of hand that he had me police escorted from his home because I push him over the limit when I intentionally removed a pen, the writing kind, off his desk and threw it on the floor (I thought it would catch his attention and it did just that). He called the police and had me escorted from his home (which is m place of residence but I am not on the deed) so the cops kindly told me I had to leave without any regard for the fact that I had no where to go, I was only able to grab a few of my things, the most important like my ids and medication bag, while having to leave my dogs still in his care. I asked the cop to take me to the nearest hospital, not to register in but I felt that would be a safer option as opposed to the town shelter. After standing in the hospital parking lot for about 20 minutes, he called me and said he was coming to pick me up.

Now, I have been living with him since January 2009, I have a beautiful engagement ring and a spectacular wedding dress hanging in my clothes room for the big day sometime late next year, but now it is as if none of that every happened. Now instead, I feel like I have lost everything that meant something to meant and everything that meant something in this relationship, trust, compassion, nurturing love, respect; It has all been lost to his moment of rage and irrational thinking.

I want my dogs back but I keep telling myself it is in their best interested to go to a home were they are really wanted and fully welcome as a part of the family; I could not give them that while they were living here, they were constanly gated in the livingroom not able to move freely around in the house, he was constantly criticizing their personality despite the fact that behaviorally they were very well-trained dogs who loved to be shown love.

Now I spend my day, waking up at 5:42am in the morning for no apparent reason, I just can't sleep any longer than that. I try to keep myself busy from thinking about the situation by cleaning or painting (we just finished painting the livingroom), his home is turning into a beautiful space (from the recent even i learned this is not my home). I also make sure to take enough medications to numb my emotions so that I can at least make it through the day light hours without breaking down emotionally and then when night comes and I fill the rush of emotions coming, I take a nice little medication cocktail to send me right off to sleep (I do not take more than prescribed by my physican it is just that most of my medication are very sedating). Sometimes however, I can't seem to hold back the rush and I find myself locked in the bathroom with the music blasting so that I can no be heard sobbing and when thta doesn't work, I find the smallest space i an squeeze myself into, wrap my next with a scarf, place a large winter hat on my head and rock myself back and forth until the rush passes.

I want to say that I hate him but deep down inside the hatred is toward myself for being co-dependent on someone else for my well-being, for being so trusting and open with people despite the proof of life that would certainly warn me against such foolishness. I am angry at myself for being sick and not able to function enough to finish my college degree, for ruining my first marriage, for not being able to care for my dogs, for being WEAK.


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I offer big hugs to you. :shocked: You are suffering so much right now. I'm so sorry.

Before I say another word, I have to tell you that you are NOT weak! Not in any sense of the word. Seeing a doc, taking meds, posting on DF - all of those things take great courage. You're stronger than you think. You are NOT weak!!

What worries me is the violence your fianc

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thank you so much for responding. I appreciate all you kind words and your wisdom about my situation.

I am seeing my therapist 2x a week and I am keep her abreast to everything that is going on with the entire situation.

When something lays heavy on my heart instead of repressing the emotions, I have gently conversed with my fiance so that I do not continue to stuff it in; but regardless of how much is said the pain is still in my heart. I feel as though I have always put the needs of others above my own needs regardless of how devastating it could be to my own life. It is the "caretaker" role I was born into. I have spent my life taking care of others or just doing and moving, but really not getting anywhere. I want more from life, there has to be more to life than this.

I have a lot to think about in regards to the future of my relationship and the next steps I will take toward my own emotional freedom from all the darkness that has been a part of my past. I AM A STRONG PERSON, sometimes I may feel weak but in my heart I know that I am a warrior and a survivor. I know that a new chapter in my life has started, I must be brave enough to move forward regardless of what that will entails.

Thank you again, your words were very soothing and healing.


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Hi Bean,

I had a very long and "real talk" conversation with my fiance and things went very well, so much so that I have my dogs back with me again. He understands that in order for this relationship to continue his previous behavior is completely unacceptable. He acknowledged his need to change his behavior and attitude in general. He realized that he needs to reframe his perception of things because for the most part, he sees things from a negative perception and he realizes that it has certainly had negative impacts on our relationship, but also in his everyday experience.

I have decided that with his continued committment to change I will go forward in rebuilding this relationship. I made sure he understood that due to the past events my trust in the relationship has certainly been challenged and it will require time and evidence of his change in his thoughts and actions before that can be as it once was.

I will tell you that he has never been violent toward me and he understands that if anything like before is ever to occur again we will no longer be together. I grew up watching my mother abused when I was a young girl and I have never had any man put their hands on me and it is not about to start now. I am not afraid to be on my own, despite how I may sometimes question my strength, I AM a very strong woman and extermely perservant.

Things are much better between us and my girls seem to be much more at ease now then they were before (we no longer have any gates up) I think having the freedom to move around has help to decrease their anxiety and certainly help in my little one not feeling so needed for attention.

We are taking it day by day.


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  • 5 years later...

I have been suffering with PTSD for a decade. I was diagnosed just a few months ago. My real mother abandoned me when I was 1 year old, and my father remarried to my step mom when I was 9 years old. She constantly told me that I had bad blood, and she didn't like me because I was my mothers daughter. I was then raped by my step mothers nephew. To this day I have flashbacks, and I am going through a lot. I'm struggling while on Lamictol, and Trazodone. I am seeing my therapist once a week, and this forum really helped me realize I am not alone.

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I have been suffering with PTSD for a decade. I was diagnosed just a few months ago. My real mother abandoned me when I was 1 year old, and my father remarried to my step mom when I was 9 years old. She constantly told me that I had bad blood, and she didn't like me because I was my mothers daughter. I was then raped by my step mothers nephew. To this day I have flashbacks, and I am going through a lot. I'm struggling while on Lamictol, and Trazodone. I am seeing my therapist once a week, and this forum really helped me realize I am not alone.

Welcome Nikkio,


I am sorry that those things happened to you. I found getting diagnosed at last a shock a relief and very difficult in many ways. It took me years to accept and I am still not there completely. Be really patient with yourself and make sure you get help from someone who specialises in trauma and understands it properly. Take care. 

Edited by Fizzle
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