Posttraumatic stress disorder, or PTSD for short, is a mental health issue that individuals develop after experiencing or witnessing an intensely shocking life-threatening event, like murders, combat, a natural disaster, an accident, or even sexual assault.
What you should know
The people who have PTSD find it hard to do average day to day activities, like going to work, getting dressed, attending school, or spending time with family or with the ones involved in the traumatic event. Unlike others, they don’t feel better in time.
PTSD can happen to anyone. And unlike people seem to think, it is not a sign of weakness or of an underlying depression. However, there are factors associated with an increased chance of developing PTSD, many of which cannot be modified.
What are the symptoms?
PTSD symptoms are quite revealing. They usually appear soon after the traumatic event, depending on the mental status of the patient. For some, it might take years, and then one day a trigger will create a domino effect that will end up in an acute PTSD crisis. Other times, the symptoms might appear and disappear.
There are four main types of symptoms of PTSD, but as is the case with any condition, they may not be the same for all people. One of the most frequent is the reliving of the event when he or she has nightmares, flashbacks or bad memories of the thing that left an impact.
And each time the person feels the same pain. For this, he or she has to learn to avoid the triggers. Hyperarousal is another common symptom. This is when the person feels jittery and alert, always on the lookout for a threat and danger. This can alternate with flashes of anger and irritability.
Other things that people with PTSD might experience are intense feelings of shame, despair or hopelessness, depression and anxiety, chronic pain and social interaction issues. This is why sometimes it can be tricky to treat this condition.
Is it treatable?
There are indeed many different treatment options for people living with PTSD. For some, therapy can work wonders and treat them entirely, for others it might just help them cope with their main symptoms and improve the quality of their lives. There are two main modern types of treatment. Psychotherapy or counseling, and medication. Most psychiatrists combine the two options for much better results.
After I got back from Afghanistan, my counselor suggested that I went back to my roots, and find my identity. And besides the medication, which I’ll admit it made me feel quite weird in the beginning, connecting once again with nature has made me see that life is worth living and has made me get some peace of mind.
So if you think you might have this cruel condition, do not be afraid to seek out professional help and travel the world in a motorhome, perhaps even accompanied by a trusted companion such as a dog (I always take my German Shepherd Max along with me on all my RV adventures).