PTSD myths: women, men, civilians, veterans

By Kelli Jones: For More Info, Go Here…

I had a conversation with an acquaintance recently who opened up about a female military friend who has Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and a service dog. A few weeks back, they were out with a group when the friend walked away for a moment. This was when people at the table acted surprised that a woman in the military can get PTSD — even puzzled why she needs a support animal. I was taken back by the apparent ignorance, but grounded myself after remembering the many myths in circulation about PTSD.

It was once commonly believed that only veterans — mostly men — can be diagnosed with the disorder, but that’s changing as the conversation surrounding the stigma grows. While there are more high-risk career fields or environments, anyone can get PTSD at any given moment-including children. Moreover, traumatic events leading to PTSD aren’t always life-threatening. Let’s first add context to this article by defining PTSD and its many crippling symptoms.

According to the American Psychiatric Association, “Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric disorder that can occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist act, war/combat, rape or other violent personal assault.”

Statistics show that 70 percent of Americans have been exposed to at least one traumatic event in their lives. Out of this demographic, about 20 percent have lived with or are living with symptoms of PTSD, around 44.7 million people. This isn’t a complete list, but the symptoms aren’t pretty. Courtesy of APA:

  • Intrusive thoughts such as repeated, involuntary memories; distressing dreams; or flashbacks of the traumatic event. Flashbacks may be so vivid that people feel they are re-living the traumatic experience or seeing it before their eyes.
  • Avoiding reminders of the traumatic event may include avoiding people, places, activities, objects and situations that bring on distressing memories. People may try to avoid remembering or thinking about the traumatic event. They may resist talking about what happened or how they feel about it.
  • Negative thoughts and feelings may include ongoing and distorted beliefs about oneself or others (e.g., “I am bad,” “No one can be trusted”); ongoing fear, horror, anger, guilt or shame; much less interest in activities previously enjoyed; or feeling detached or estranged from others.
  • Arousal and reactive symptoms may include being irritable and having angry outbursts; behaving recklessly or in a self-destructive way; being easily startled; or having problems concentrating or sleeping.

I’m a woman who’s lived with PTSD for years. I have loved ones, men and women, who’ve been diagnosed with it from car accidents, living with an alcoholic or toxic parent, war and combat, domestic violence, rape, verbal or physical abuse as a child, losing a loved one, bullying, natural disasters, and sometimes the haunting of mistakes from the past. PTSD doesn’t discriminate. It’s dangerous to think it does.

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