Please welcome back Jennifer McGregor. Today she writes about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and its effects on those who have it. The good news is: if treated correctly, PTSD doesn’t have to mean a life of depression and addiction or a death sentence.
PTSD: What are the Associated Risks?
by Jennifer McGregor
Image via Pixabay by googles
People who suffer from PTSD will experience symptoms such as nightmares, flashbacks, paranoia, and depression. These are to be expected after a PTSD diagnosis. What is less commonly known are the coinciding effects PTSD can have on someone. Too often, one mental illness can trigger other illnesses, risks, or symptoms that may not be directly associated with PTSD. Here are a few of the associated risks to be on the lookout for if someone you love has been diagnosed with PTSD.
Social Isolation is Very Common
When a person is suffering from PTSD, they tend to withdraw into their homes, afraid of experiencing a trigger. The home is predictable and can be cleared of potential triggers. Public space and other people are unpredictable, making the risk of an episode greater. Unfortunately, this leads to social isolation which in turn causes worsened depression.
To avoid this, it is critical that loved ones keep in touch and take the time to learn how to behave around the person. They should learn what triggers episodes and what public settings they feel uncomfortable in. You don’t want to force them out of their comfort zone, but you do want to encourage social interaction and public outings.
Addiction Affects a Huge Percentage of Veterans
Particularly in female veterans, a number of PTSD sufferers will begin to self-medicate as a method of coping. Though many veterans fail to receive the help they need, female veterans are most at risk for returning to a less than supportive environment. With the likelihood of social isolation, addiction to drugs or alcohol becomes a very real risk. The person wants to feel better and turns to mind altering substances. As they continue to self-medicate with little reason to stop, an addiction takes root.
Professional treatment is the best way to prevent addiction as well as working to avoid social isolation. Professional counseling and possibly medication help eradicate some of the worst symptoms, alleviating the perceived need to self-medicate.
Suicidal Thoughts are Often the Result of These Effects
Between depression, addiction, social isolation, and the symptoms of PTSD, it’s no wonder so many veterans experience suicidal thoughts. Isolation and addiction is a deadly combination that too often ends with tragedy.
Again, the best way to ensure that suicidal thoughts and actions are prevented is to get your loved one professional treatment. The help of a professional is critical for proper treatment of mental illness, particularly one with so many potentially dangerous effects. Support from loved ones also has an important role to play as loved ones can help prevent social isolation and gauge everyday behavior.
Though PTSD can have many potentially life-altering effects, it can also be very manageable. Keep in mind that with proper treatment and cultivation of positive coping tactics, a person can easily learn to live with PTSD. Think of the transition as nothing more than an adjustment and an opportunity to educate yourself on a mental disorder.
Many people with PTSD can go on to live full, successful lives thanks to the modern understanding of the disorder and the love and support of friends and family. So know the risks and prepare yourself but don’t lose hope. With help, life can go back to normal.
Jennifer McGregor has wanted to be a doctor since she was little. Now, as a pre-med student, she’s well on her way to achieving that dream. She helped create PublicHealthLibrary.org with a friend as part of a class project. With it, she hopes to provide access to trustworthy health and medical resources. When Jennifer isn’t working on the site, you can usually find her hitting the books in the campus library or spending some downtime with her dog at the local park.
Thank you, Jennifer, for writing for Choices again
on such an important and pervasive topic.
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