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Understanding Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
By Sentinel News Service
Published June 24, 2020

PASADENA, Calif.June 24, 2020—This Saturday, June 27, we observe Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Awareness Day, and June is also PTSD Awareness Month. According to the American Psychiatric Association, PTSD affects approximately 3.5-percent of U.S. adults, and an estimated one in 11 people will be diagnosed with it in their lifetime. Women are twice as likely as men to have PTSD.

While many believe the mental health disorder only affects military veterans, many Americans who are not veterans of war also experience nightmares or flashbacks caused by PTSD. Those people often relive traumatic events – such as major accidents, sexual assault or witnessing trauma – which become seared in their memories and can negatively affect their mental health.

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“PTSD affects individuals in many different ways,” said Dr. Juan-Carlos Zuberbuhler, a psychiatrist with Kaiser Permanente Southern California. “There’s one common denominator, however. Those who suffer from PTSD can experience significant challenges when it comes to handling daily activities such as work, going to school or having healthy relationships with your spouse, children, friends and loved ones. That can often lead to social withdrawal, anxiety, shame, sleep disorders, or even suicide.”

Dr. Zuberbuhler, who practices at Kaiser Permanente West Los Angeles Medical Center, noted the simplest triggers can make someone with PTSD feel like their nervous system becomes hijacked by a panic reaction, and that can cause you to fight (get angry), flight (avoid) or freeze (feel numb).

He noted certain factors increase the chances of someone developing PTSD, including having directly experienced or repeatedly witnessed the aftermath of a very intense or long-lasting traumatic event.  “Thus, in addition to direct victims, many first responders or healthcare providers can be at risk for developing PTSD,” he explained.

According to Dr. Zuberbuhler, doing the following may improve a person’s path to recovery from PTSD:

  • In times of anxiety, reassure and comfort yourself.
  • Always attend scheduled counseling sessions and doctor’s appointments.
  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine, nicotine and illegal drug use, as they can raise your anxiety level and cause problems with sleeping.
  • Make sure you get sufficient rest.
  • Exercise.
  • Use proven relaxation techniques.
  • Get involved in your community.

Because there are times when PTSD can cause severe anxiety and other mental health challenges,
Dr. Zuberbuhler emphasized the importance of knowing when to seek help.

“If you start thinking about hurting yourself or others, then call 911,” hesaid. “Additionally, if your symptoms get worse, or you feel your state of mental health isn’t improving, contact your health care provider.”

Kaiser Permanente offers valuable care instructions for those with PTSD.  Find out more here.

About Kaiser Permanente

Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, Kaiser Permanente has a mission to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve 12.3 million members in eight states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal Permanente Medical Group physicians, specialists and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and the support of community health. https://about.kaiserpermanente.org/

Categories: Health
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