PTSD Awareness Month
PTSD or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a disorder that develops in some people who have experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous event. When you see the letters PTSD, where does your mind go? What type of person do you picture? Most likely you think of a Veteran who served in Vietnam, or Iraq, maybe one of the hundreds of men and women who were part of the search and rescue after 9/11. When I think of PTSD I imagine, as I assume most people do, a person who has been through a very intense experience, typically some type of war or similar experience. However, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, anyone can develop PTSD at any age. This includes not only war veterans, but children, the elderly, and people who have been through a physical or sexual assault, abuse, accident, disaster, or any other serious events. According to the National Center for PTSD, about seven or eight out of every 100 people will experience PTSD at some point in their lives. Women are more likely to develop PTSD than men, and genes may make some people more likely to develop PTSD than others. Not everyone with PTSD has been through a dangerous event. Some people develop PTSD after a friend or family member experiences danger or harm. The sudden, unexpected death of a loved one can also lead to PTSD.
Older adults who experience a serious fall may develop symptoms of PTSD in the days following the event. In an article by the Center for Advancing Health they discuss a study published in the journal General Hospital Psychiatry which found symptoms associated with PTSD in 27 out of 100 people over the age of 65 who had been admitted to a hospital after a fall. A young and healthy person may have a hard time imagining having PTSD after a fall, but if you look at the experience from an elderly person’s point of view it is easy how this can happen. If you are getting older and it is harder to get around, maybe your legs do not lift your feet off the ground as high as they used to, or your home has become over cluttered and it is hard to get around, this can easily cause a fall, and when your bones become brittle and weak they break very easily. Have you ever been in a car accident? Did you relive that moment over and over for a while after the accident? Did you have any problems getting back behind the wheel, or driving on the same road at the same time? It is the same for an elderly person and falling, you relive that moment when you lost control and were unable to stop the accident from happening, but when an older adult falls it is something that most likely would not have happened at a younger age and the trauma that can be caused by reliving that moment or living in fear that it will happen again can put unnecessary stress and trauma on a person. Talking about the fear, maybe joining a support group, and taking steps to avoid the situation from happening again are great ways to overcome PTSD, it does not happen over night, but you can move past the fear. If you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of PTSD, such as, reliving the experience through nightmares or flashbacks, avoiding situations that remind you of the event, or having negative changes in feelings and beliefs, talk to your doctor about getting help.
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