The Beginning of Something Else

On June 1, 2007 I found out my husband and partner of almost two decades had been unfaithful to me since before our marriage, and had been having intercourse with prostitutes for 3 1/2 years. This is what happened next.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Post traumatic stress disorder

From the American Academy of Family Physicians:

What is post-traumatic stress disorder?
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a type of anxiety problem. It can develop after your safety or life is threatened, or after you experience or see a traumatic event. Some examples of traumatic events are a natural disaster, rape, severe car crash or fighting in a war. Usually, the event makes you feel very afraid or helpless. People with PTSD have trouble coping with and getting over traumatic events and often feel the effects for months afterward.

Who develops PTSD?
Whether you'll develop PTSD may depend partly on how severe and intense the trauma was and how long it lasted. People who have anxiety, depression or other mental disorders are more likely to develop PTSD. People who have been victims of previous trauma are also at greater risk.

Who is at risk for developing PTSD?
The following people may be at risk for PTSD:
Anyone who has been victimized
Anyone who has seen a violent act
Survivors of rape, domestic violence, physical assault such as a mugging or any other random act of violence
Survivors of unexpected events such as car wrecks, fires or terrorist attacks
Survivors of natural disasters such as hurricanes or earthquakes
Anyone who was sexually or physically abused
Soldiers, veterans or victims of war or combat
Anyone who has responded to traumatic events such as firefighters, police or rescue workers
Anyone diagnosed with a life-threatening illness or those who have had surgery
Anyone who has experienced grief such as the unexpected loss of a loved one

What are the symptoms of PTSD?
You can have symptoms right after the trauma or they can develop months, or even years, later. Your symptoms may include:
Having flashbacks, nightmares, bad memories or hallucinations
Trying not to think about the trauma or staying away from people who remind you of it
Not being able to recall parts of the event
Feeling emotionally numb or detached from others
Having trouble sleeping
Being irritable, angry or jumpy
People with PTSD are often depressed. Sometimes they try to feel better by using alcohol or drugs. This can lead to substance abuse and addiction.

From the National Institute of Mental Health website:

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened. Traumatic events that may trigger PTSD include violent personal assaults, natural or human-caused disasters, accidents, or military combat.

Among those who may experience PTSD are military troops who served in the Vietnam and Gulf Wars; rescue workers involved in the aftermath of disasters like the terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C.; survivors of the Oklahoma City bombing; survivors of accidents, rape, physical and sexual abuse, and other crimes; immigrants fleeing violence in their countries; survivors of the 1994 California earthquake, the 1997 North and South Dakota floods, and hurricanes Hugo and Andrew; and people who witness traumatic events. Family members of victims also can develop the disorder. PTSD can occur in people of any age, including children and adolescents.

Many people with PTSD repeatedly re-experience the ordeal in the form of flashback episodes, memories, nightmares, or frightening thoughts, especially when they are exposed to events or objects reminiscent of the trauma. Anniversaries of the event can also trigger symptoms. People with PTSD also experience emotional numbness and sleep disturbances, depression, anxiety, and irritability or outbursts of anger. Feelings of intense guilt are also common. Most people with PTSD try to avoid any reminders or thoughts of the ordeal. PTSD is diagnosed when symptoms last more than 1 month.

Physical symptoms such as headaches, gastrointestinal distress, immune system problems, dizziness, chest pain, or discomfort in other parts of the body are common in people with PTSD. Often, doctors treat these symptoms without being aware that they stem from an anxiety disorder.

Facts About PTSD
An estimated 5.2 million American adults ages 18 to 54, or approximately 3.6 percent of people in this age group in a given year, have PTSD.1
About 30 percent of Vietnam veterans developed PTSD at some point after the war.2 The disorder also has been detected among veterans of the Persian Gulf War, with some estimates running as high as 8 percent.3
More than twice as many women as men experience PTSD following exposure to trauma.4
Depression, alcohol or other substance abuse, or other anxiety disorders frequently co-occur with PTSD.5 The likelihood of treatment success is increased when these other conditions are appropriately diagnosed and treated as well.

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