Silver Lining

A loving community finding the silver lining.

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

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Definition: a mental health condition caused by experiencing a frightening or traumatic event that causes stress and anxiety symptoms after the event.

 

Symptoms:

  • Flashbacks and nightmares related to the traumatic event
  • Avoidance of places or situations that are reminders of the event, or feeling anxious or panicky in such places or situations
  • Symptoms of anxiety and depression such as feeling jumpy and “on the edge”, loss of interest in hobbies and others (see link to clinical depression and generalized anxiety articles for more symptoms)
  • Trouble remembering key components of the event

 

Statistics:

  • 7 or 8 out of every one hundred people in the world will experience PTSD sometime in their lifetime.
  • There are more than three million US cases of PTSD a year. Very common – you’re not alone!
  • Not everyone with PTSD had been in a war, shooting or other life-threatening situation. The disorder can result from seeing a loved one die or be injured too.

 

How to feel better:

  • Talk and exposure therapy
  • Have a support network – this can include friends, family, or an organized group of people who also have PTSD.
  • Exercise

 

Personal thoughts:

  • Some people put others down for having PTSD by saying things like “well, you didn’t even see combat so how can you have PTSD?” – not cool – you don’t have to directly experience a traumatic event to have the disorder
  • Don’t blame the person for not trying to get back to normal life after the event – it’s not their fault

 

Sources:

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Panic Disorder

Definition: Often experiencing spontaneous, unexpected panic attacks, which cause periods of intense fear

Symptoms of a panic attack:

  • Palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate
  • Sweating
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Sensations of shortness of breath, smothering, or choking
  • feeling of impending doom

Symptoms of panic disorder:

  • Sudden, frequent panic attacks
  • Feeling of being out of control during the attacks
  • Fear of future attacks
  • Avoidance/fear of places where attacks have occurred (agoraphobia)

Background/Statistics:

  • Six million Americans have it; women are twice as likely as men to have it
  • Affects 1 in 75 people, mainly teenagers and young adults
  • May be genetic, but also caused by stress or past psychological trauma
  • Occurs due to the activation of the fight-or-flight response caused by epinephrine (adrenaline), but there is not always an obvious trigger
    • One common trigger is fear of having a panic attack
      • This often leads to agoraphobia (fear of places where panic attacks have occurred): ex. a panic attack at a subway station might cause one to avoid subways/other crowded places

How to Feel Better:

  • Tell others. Many sufferers of panic disorder do not notify loved ones about what they experience because they fear being told that it is irrational or fake. However, it is important to tell others about what you experience because support is necessary to get through.
  • Inform medical professionals. People with panic disorder often do not tell doctors about their panic attacks, but doctors can help you get through your suffering, and can prescribe you something to help if the panic attacks get worse. It is also often comforting as well to have a medical professional whom you can trust.
  • Use stress-management techniques, such as meditation, exercise, or cutting down on caffeine. Stress is a major cause of panic disorder, along with other anxiety disorders, so try to cut as much stress out of your life as possible to start feeling better!

Sources:

http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders/index.shtml

http://www.adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/panic-disorder-agoraphobia


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Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Definition: severe, ongoing anxiety that interferes with daily activities

 

Symptoms:

  • persistent worries about small or large concerns that are out of proportion to their actual impact. Most people with generalized anxiety disorder realize that their worries are unrealistic.
  • inability to relax and let go of worries; feeling keyed up and on the edge
  • difficulty concentrating or feeling like your mind “goes blank”
  • worrying about worrying too much
  • indecisiveness, worrying about making the wrong decision
  • physical symptoms: fatigue, irritability, muscle tension/aches, trembling, nervous, insomnia, sweating, nausea, bowel problems, headaches
  • symptoms specific to children and teens:
    • excessive need/desire to fit in
    • perfectionism
    • lack of confidence and constant need for reassurance and approval
    • spending excessive time doing homework

 

Statistics:

  • Prevalence: very common; more than 3 million cases a year in the United States alone.
  • GAD affects twice as many women as men
  • People are most at risk for GAD between childhood and middle age, and the disorder usually develops gradually

 

How to feel better:

  • Exercise: Even if you don’t feel like it, try to get yourself moving, whether you’re taking a walk or playing a game of basketball with a friend. Exercise is a potent stress-reliever and can help elevate your mood, helping alleviate your feelings of anxiety.
  • Avoid alcohol, smoking, and coffee: sedatives like alcohol, nicotine and caffeine can make your anxiety worse.
  • Sleep: Make getting enough sleep a priority – it should be as important, if not more so, that getting good grades or doing other work. Sleep deprivation can lead to a slew of negative consequences, including impaired focus, coordination, and learning; higher blood pressure and risk for heart disease; and greater anxiety and depression. All around, you’re better off going to bed and getting the sleep you need than staying up those extra hours cramming for that chemistry test.
  • Face your worries: This doesn’t mean actually going out and doing whatever is scaring you, but it’s important to sit down with yourself once in a while and productively think about your worries. Go over the list of things that are giving your anxiety and ask yourself if those problems are solvable. If the problem is solvable, start thinking about solutions, and get ready to implement those solutions if necessary. If it’s not, that’s okay too. It’s not possible to be certain about everything that happens in your life, and uncertainty doesn’t mean something bad will happen. Everything will be just fine. 🙂
  • Professional Help: When all else fails, don’t be afraid to seek out professional help. Seeing a psychiatrist isn’t shameful – it’s smart. You’re getting the help you need and deserve, and you’ll feel better soon.

 

Additional Links and Sources for this Article: