In light of recent events in Newtown, CT, the following is an understanding of post traumatic stress disorder. As we pray for those impacted by this horrific event, let's realize that they will need our prayers for quite sometime. I hope this information will help us to be vigilant in our prayers in the days ahead.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or ptsd happens after a person experiences or witnesses a very traumatic and terrifying incident. Not everyone develops ptsd after a trauma but between 10 and 30% will. Combat, rape, the 9/11 attack, natural catastrophies, severe auto accidents, the Columbine and recent Colorado and Arizona shootings and now the event in Newtown, or any kind of very traumatic incident can bring on ptsd. PTSD is not a sign of weakness of character, but a reaction that is physical, emotional and mental that continues long after the danger is past.
In order for a diagnosis of ptsd to occur the sufferer must experience the following three things:
1) A recurrent re-experiencing of the trauma in the form of memories of the incident, flashbacks, nightmares or the feeling of reliving the trauma.
2) Avoidance of certain people and places that might remind the person of the actual trauma.
3) Continual physical problems from hypervigilance such as anger, inability to concentrate, sleep problems and irritability.
In addition to the above the sufferer might also experience:
- nightmares or sleep disturbances
- flashbacks of the traumatic event
- inability to function in familiar social events
- inability to function well at work, school or even church
- negative impact on grades or job performance
- problems with memory
- feelings of estrangement or detachment
- disruption in family life
- difficulty in parenting
- marriage problems
When ptsd sufferers open up, they will eventually admit that the event had effected them far greater than they thought it would. They may even be amazed at how damaging the event was on their life as a whole. But not only the victim, loved ones and others such as spouses, parents, co-workers, friends, etc are all effected by witnessing the one suffering with ptsd. These persons, when they notice that the ptsd victim is acting different and negatively impacted, those around him/her may have difficulty understanding why they seem stuck in this trauma and cannot break free from it. Education and understanding is crucial for these loved ones who are impacted by the victims actions and choices.
Unfortunately, some sufferers of ptsd may give up hope. They may turn to drugs, alcohol or other destructive behaviors to numb the pain. They may give in to fits of rage or violence. Some withdraw physically and emotionally or even commit suicide. The memories seem to overwhelming and the pain to constant for them to bear.
As you read this and pray for the victims, it important we remember there is hope in Jesus Christ. We have a God of restoration, healing, and freedom. Emotional, mental and spiritual healing is possible. Our God is good and He is able to bring about recovery as the victims of ptsd receives the help they need from mental health professionals and ministers. These ministers and counselors also need our prayers as they serve and help.
For more information on post traumatic stress disorder see the following websites: