A hurricane, car crash, physical assault all three extraordinary events. Any of the three can lead to post traumatic stress disorder.
“It’s usually after an exposure to an event that seems to be out of the ordinary, traumatic. We think about abuse, we think about a natural disaster where individuals feel their safety feels threatened. Our brains have a way of taking all that information in from our sensory input and really processing that and helping us move forward. But there are times our brains are not able to do that correctly,” says Dr. Omar Rieche, Director Behavioral Health Center with Lee Memorial Health System.
If you thought PTSD was strictly a military problem, think again. Experts say it can happen anywhere, anytime, to anyone. It’s impossible to know who will be a victim of chance.
“Post Traumatic Stress Disorder really can affect any of us if the trauma is enough of a trauma and a person is exposed to a trauma multiple times. Take for example 9/11, we know that studies show there was a radius where people close by were effected to a greater degree but if they looked at the nation there was an increase of PTSD,” says Dr. Rieche.
It’s thought if people repeatedly witness a traumatic event, it can dredge up past personal experiences and create the potential for PTSD. And so can certain events: rape victims have a 49% chance of developing PTSD. People involved in serious accidents 17%, those who witness a death or injury 11% and victims of natural disaster 4%. A variety of therapies are helping people reverse the course.
“A lot of therapies can be very, very helpful. Dialectic Behavioral Therapy utilizes relaxation techniques to help the person try to modulate their mood and control it. In fact at Lee Behavioral Health Clinic, we recently completed a DBT group for individuals who have been through trauma in their own life. By the first and second session patients are learning how to calm themselves down,” says Dr. Rieche.
No one gets through life unscathed. The key is recognizing the risk and controlling the response.