As I drove down a long country road this morning, I was greeted with flags of red, white, and blue. Streamers were hanging off of the farmhouse porch, and remnants of games were left in the driveways of many houses. This unofficial start of summer coincides with the American holiday, Memorial Day, and with it the remembrance of loss and sacrifice.
I am reminded this morning of the women who are unable to celebrate this week. I want to share with those women that it is ok to not feel celebratory. As our neighbors and colleagues go to the lake or have large cookouts, it is ok if you sit in contemplative thought of the trauma and loss associated with Memorial Day. You are not isolated in your grief and your bereavement does not have to rule your life forever.
I am thankful for the increased knowledge around the mental health issue that many men and women of our Armed Forces face, PTSD. However, I wonder how many of the families who have lost someone to war have their own trials with PTSD and fight their own battle daily.
I am going to list below the criteria that we, as clinicians, use to identify someone who is suffering from PTSD. And with that listing, I want to make it clear that treatment, recovery, and hope can be found! One of the best therapeutic tools I use to help someone who suffers from PTSD is Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing. EMDR has helped some of my clients not only face their trauma but also clearly and effectively work through it and gain freedom from their mental anguish.
If you experience any of these symptoms, please know you are not alone. Reach out to someone who you know can and will help. Building a life worth living is possible, one small step at a time.
According to the DSM V, Symptoms of PTSD include but are not limited to:
- Recurrent, involuntary, and intrusive distressing memories of the traumatic event(s).
- Recurrent distressing dreams in which the content and/or affect of the dream are related to the traumatic event(s).
- Dissociative reactions (e.g. flashbacks) in which the individual feels or acts as if the traumatic event(s) were recurring.
- Intense or prolonged psychological distress at exposure to internal or external cues that symbolize or resemble an aspect of the traumatic event(s).
- Avoidance of or efforts to avoid distressing memories, thoughts, or feelings about or closely related to the traumatic event(s).
- Avoidance or effort to avoid external reminders (people, places, conversations, activities, objects, situations) that arouse distressing memories, thoughts, or feelings about or closely associated with the traumatic event(s).
- Persistent and exaggerated negative beliefs or expectations about oneself, others, or the world.
- Feelings of detachment or estrangement from others.
- Irritable behavior and angry outbursts, typically expressed as verbal or physical aggression toward people or objects.
- Reckless or self-destructive behavior.
- Hyper vigilance.
- Exaggerated startle response.
- Problems with concentration.
- Sleep disturbance (difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or restless sleep).