Introduction: What is PTSD?

9 minutes
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If you have clicked on this course, it is likely that you or someone that you know in love has experienced a traumatic event. By definition, traumatic events are overwhelming and they're terribly frightening. It can be difficult to know how to navigate your way through the symptoms and the experiences that come up after trauma. This course will help guide you through that process. The first thing that I want to talk about is that there are really different categories of post traumatic stress. When you experience something traumatic, it is very normal to experience intense emotions, intense somatic sensations, to experience images that are hard to let go of in the first several weeks after that event.

I'll share an example I had a woman that came in to see me after she had witnessed a shooting she was on her Way to work and she had witnessed this occur and on her route to work and she was shaking, she was overwhelmed emotionally. And she had come in saying that she had started taking different routes to work started not wanting to go to work because she didn't know how to work her way through those thoughts, feelings and emotions. Once she had a place to know that, first of all, that was normal, it was her body trying to protect her. The panic that she was feeling was understandable. She started to settle down. She had a place where she could work through those feelings and thoughts and recognize that even though that moment was very frightening, that she was indeed safe now, and over time those feelings subsided.

Now had she not had that support, it may have lingered, those feelings may have not resolved and it might have continued into worsening of symptoms. When that occurs. That is when we start to see some things Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. So typically in the first four weeks or so after exposure to a traumatic event, if those experiences are happening if you're having those symptoms, that's what we refer to as acute traumatic stress. But when symptoms remain after those first four weeks, that's when the diagnosis of post traumatic stress disorder applies when symptoms are present past a month, that is when we look at the presence of post traumatic stress disorder. And sometimes PTSD is referred to as a disorder of failed recovery.

What that basically means is that your body and mind are not recovering from symptoms of intrusive memories, feeling like you want to avoid situations, maybe having flashbacks or overwhelming emotional experiences. Sometimes, those intrusive experiences are in your body, this feeling of overwhelm somatic sensations that you don't know how to deal with. But I want to be very clear that when we talk about a disorder of failed recovery, that the failure is not you. You haven't failed in any way. What the failure refers to is that there has not been adequate support to help you work through all of those thoughts and feelings and emotions. Typically, what we look for when we are recovering is that we need to have adequate support systems be that another person that can help hear your story, a therapist that can help you work through those emotions.

When we have enough support. Typically, we're able to move through that experience with much greater ease. You can think of this course as a form of that support. However, typically taking a course or working through a workbook is maybe an initial stage of support, but most often what we need is to actually have some face to face, help someone that can to actually help you start to work through your unique experience. In one of the later modules of this course you will be guided on how do you look for the right therapist for you and what to look for as you're navigating through that process. I'd like to speak about one more form of PTSD, which is called complex PTSD.

Complex PTSD is sometimes different from traditional PTSD because it is the result of long term ongoing stress. So sometimes when we're looking for a diagnosis of PTSD, we're looking for that single incident or something that's very glaring like a traumatic event, a car accident, natural disaster, we're looking for something specific, and with complex PTSD that can be more subtle, because it can be the result for example of working within a workplace where you feel like you're being harassed or experience of being bullied over time in school. Or often complex PTSD is related to childhood events in which you're growing up in a home that maybe is neglectful. Perhaps you have the clothes that you need or the food on the table, but you're not getting understanding, a tune in for your emotions and a general sense of belonging. So sometimes when we're looking at the origin of complex PTSD, what we're actually looking for is what was missing.

That's especially true in the form of neglect where what was missing was that level of a caring a caregiver over time. Often when we see complex PTSD showing up, it is because there is a chronic stressful situation, but the important piece is that there is no way out. That can sometimes literally mean that there is no way out that you can't leave your family because you're dependent on your caregivers or It can be that as an adult, you perceive that there is no way out of that job, that relationship, and so you stay much longer than your body and mind can handle. The symptoms of complex PTSD are actually very similar to traditional PTSD, in the sense that there will be intrusive symptoms of overwhelming emotions, maybe flashback, there might also be avoidance symptoms, and sometimes a lingering depression or feeling of hopelessness. There are three types of events that we typically associate with the development of PTSD.

The first of these are the single incidents. This is what often will come to mind. For example, the experience of an act of violence, the experience of a natural disaster, a car accident, or an experience of assault or sexual abuse. The second category is what we refer to as asis. This is an acronym for it. adverse childhood experiences.

And the aces refer to events such as being abused physically, verbally or sexually as a child experiencing childhood neglect, having exposure to domestic violence within your childhood home, or having a parent who is addicted to a substance or is incarcerated. The third category is the experience of chronic stress, such as being bullied, harassed, or having a chronically abusive relationship in which you perceive that there is no way out. It's important to recognize that not everybody that experiences a traumatic event will develop PTSD. Post Traumatic Stress is very normal. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is when you need to seek out treatment and often when you experience those first initial symptoms of post traumatic stress That is also assigned to get help because it can prevent the development of PTSD. Sometimes people will ask why if two or 10 people were exposed to the same event, how come some of those people would develop PTSD and others won't.

And researchers have looked at the traits that are associated with being resilient in the midst of facing a traumatic event, and we'll talk about those later in this course. However, what I do want to remind you is that the most important piece that can be preventative of the development of PTSD or an important treatment factor is having sufficient support to process through the emotions, the sensations, the memories and the thoughts that are linked to that traumatic experience. On a final note, for this module, I want you to know that if you are experiencing PTSD, you are not alone. It is actually very Common, and unfortunately a lot of people might be experiencing symptoms of PTSD and not understand why that is the purpose of this course. And lastly, I want to say that if you do have these experiences, it's not your fault. You didn't do anything wrong.

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