Post Traumatic Stress & Sexual Abuse


"He who asks a question may be a fool for five minutes, but he who never asks a question remains a fool forever." --Tom Connelly

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When in danger, it's completely natural to exhibit feelings of fear and trepidation. As a result, these centralized emotions of anxiety trigger many split-second changes in the body to prepare to defend against the danger or to avoid it. This "fight-or-flight" response is a healthy reaction meant to protect a person from harm. However, individuals who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder find that these feelings of fear are much more intensified and increasingly uncontrollable.

PTSD is an emotional illness that that is classified as an anxiety disorder and usually develops as a result of a terribly frightening, life-threatening, or otherwise highly unsafe experience.1 People who suffer from PTSD may feel severely stressed or frightened even when they're no longer in danger.

Statistics Regarding Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Statistics have shown that approximately 7%-8% of people in the United States will likely develop PTSD in their lifetime, with the lifetime occurrence in combat veterans and rape victims ranging from 10% to as high as 30%.

PTSD statistics in children and teens reveal that up to more than 40% have endured at least one traumatic event during their lifetime, resulting in the development of PTSD in up to 15% of girls and 6% of boys. On average, 3%-6% of high school students in the United States, and as many as 30%-60% of children who have survived specific disasters, have also been diagnosed with PTSD.3 Up to 100% of children who have seen a parent killed or endured sexual assault or abuse tend to develop PTSD, and more than one-third of youths who are exposed to community violence will suffer from the disorder.

Symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Symptoms of PTSD can be terrifying, often disrupting your everyday life and making it difficult to carry out your daily activities.

Most people who go through a traumatic event have some symptoms at the beginning but never develop PTSD. There are four types of symptoms that constitute PTSD:

  • Recurrent re-experiencing of the trauma (for example, troublesome memories or flashbacks are usually caused by reminders of the traumatic events such as recurring nightmares about the trauma or certain sights or sounds)
  • Avoiding situations that remind you of the event (for example, a person who was robbed at gunpoint while ordering at a hamburger drive-in may avoid fast-food restaurants.)
  • Feeling devoid of emotions (for example, an individual may not have positive or loving feelings toward other people and may stay away from relationships; or may not engage in activities they once enjoyed.)
  • Hyperarousal (for example, individuals often feel angry or irritable; have trouble concentrating; or even have a difficult time sleeping.)

Treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

When you have PTSD, dealing with the past can be hard. Instead of telling others how you feel, you may keep your feelings bottled up. However, it is important to remember that with treatment, you have the ability to get better.

There are many viable treatments available for sufferers of PTSD. Cognitive behavioral therapy appears to be the most effective type of counseling for PTSD, which includes cognitive therapy, exposure therapy, and a similar kind of therapy called EMDR, or eye movement desensitization and reprocessing.

Medications can be effective in treating PTSD as well. A type of drug known as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), which is also used for depression, is an effective option for PTSD.

Even if you always have some lingering symptoms, counseling can help you cope with your everyday life and activities. If you or a loved one has issues that interfere with work, relationships and social life, it may be time to seek out professional help from a PTSD counselor or therapist.

Citations

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