You may be hearing people talk about PTSD. It's possible you already know it stands for "Post Traumatic Stress Disorder." But you may want to know what it means and how it affects you.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a diagnosis given by a doctor or psychologist describing symptoms that might occur after a person witnesses or experiences a traumatic event. Not everyone who witnesses a traumatic event develops PTSD. But for some people seeing or being exposed to very scary events creates extreme anxiety, intense fear and feelings of helplessness. Natural disasters, car crashes or assault are examples of traumatic events. But probably what is most important to you is that many service members who have been deployed have witnessed traumatic events related to war. Some of these service members develop PTSD.
PTSD has 4 types of symptoms. First, some service members returning from war keep reliving the traumatic event. They may have nightmares or flashbacks where they feel like they are going through the event over and over again. Second, an individual might avoid situations that remind him or her of the event. For example, if your parent experienced an intense traumatizing event where there was gunfire he might avoid situations where there would be loud noises. Third, it is not uncommon for a person to feel numb or as if they have no feelings at all. They may have a hard time talking about their feelings or appear detached. Finally, an individual with PTSD may be jittery and always on the lookout for danger. For example, they may be easily startled or react violently when someone comes up behind them.
Living with a parent who has PTSD can be difficult. Hopefully, your parent will seek help if they are having these reactions. There are many effective treatments to help people with PTSD or PTSD-like symptoms. For you, the hard part is that your parent may not be able to talk to you or your family about what is happening to them. However, just knowing more about it can help take the mystery out of PTSD for you.
- Plan an activity with your parent that makes you laugh together. Google "activities that make you laugh" and you might find some really good ideas.
- Build yourself a support network of friends, family, teachers or coaches. Talk to them about how things are going at home.
- Another way for you to build a solid network of support with other military youth is to attend one of the camps for military kids held around the country.