PTSD and Acupuncture
You've seen the strained look on his face. He's far away. He doesn't sleep well and sits around all day doing nothing. He's always tired. You've invited him to the things he loves doing, but he never feels like doing them anymore. Sometimes he yells a lot-really overreacts. But when you ask him what's wrong, he denies any problems.
You're happy he is back from Iraq, but you thought it would be different. You thought you could get back to normal.
You thought that having him home safe would make both of you happy again. he's not at war anymore-why is he acting this way?
Your loved one may have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Many veterans suffer from PTSD. The Veterans Administration (VA) reports that as many as 11-20% of veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have it. Common war traumas include having been shot at, having seen someone shot or having seen death, but another primary cause of PTSD in veterans is military sexual trauma (MST). According to the VA, 23% of women in the military report sexual assault.
These numbers are scary but the good news is that there is help. There are even free clinics that provide acupuncture.
What is PTSD?
PTSD is a physiological disorder that can result from being exposed to a traumatic event. The disorder results in several different symptoms.
* Re-experiencing *
Some PTSD sufferers relive the traumatic event over and over. This can be in the form of bad memories, nightmares and flashbacks. Sights, sounds and smells can trigger re-experiencing the event.
* Avoidance *
Sometimes people with PTSD avoid the people, places and events that remind them of what happened.
* Numbing *
Symptoms of numbing include trouble expressing emotions, loss of interest in enjoyable activities, and the loss of memory of parts of the traumatic event.
* Arousal *
Anger, irritability, trouble sleeping, trouble concentrating, feeling on guard and being easily startled or surprised are common arousal symptoms.
The effects of post-traumatic stress disorder in someone's life can be far reaching. Feelings of hopelessness, shame and despair, problems at work or with relationships, serious health problems, depression, anxiety and drug or alcohol abuse are not uncommon.
How Can I Help my Friend or Relative with PTSD?
There are many ways you can help your friend or relative with PTSD.
* Learn everything you can about PTSD so you have a good idea what your friend is going through.
* Offer to go to doctor visits with your friend. Help keep track of medications and therapy. If your friend is learning new techniques to cope with stress, ask if there is any way you can help.
* Be available to listen, but be understanding if your friend doesn't want to talk. Listen with an open heart. Don't judge, argue or problem-solve. Listen with compassion.
* Plan fun activities to get him. Be aware of events or environments that are difficult and plan events to be as stress-free as possible.
* Encourage your friend to get support from family and old friends.
* Pay attention to any comments about hurting himself and report them to him therapist or doctor.
Sometimes supporting someone with PTSD is challenging. Get support for yourself so you are able to help your loved one. Seek safety and help immediately if your friend or relative becomes violent or threatening.