During World War Two, a strange phenomenon called “Battle Fatigue” affected many veterans after they returned home from combat zones in Europe and the Pacific. Today, we know this condition to be “post-traumatic stress disorder”. Back then, returning veterans didn’t talk about it, because discussing these worrisome symptoms suggested weakness or cowardice.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a medical disorder that can occur to anyone after experiencing an extremely stressful situation. Soldiers aren’t the only ones to suffer from this condition. Natural disaster survivors, as well as those who have experienced and survived attacks and accidents, also suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. More than 5 million adults are affected by this disorder every year. Twice as many women are affected than men. Post-traumatic stress disorder wasn’t even understood until the 1970s. Many sufferers were diagnosed as having stress or battle fatigue, given medication, and sent home. After the recent involvement of the United States military personnel in the Middle East and Iraq, the condition has grown more common.

A victim may experience one of many symptoms: A flashback or nightmare. Reaction to situations or events that trigger a powerful emotional or physical response. A feeling of detachment, loss of interest in activities, or a lack of positive emotion. Avoidance of anything (activities, people, or situations) associated with the trauma. Difficulty sleeping, irritability, and exaggerated responses to being startled.

Many people exhibit roller coaster feelings or emotions after a traumatic experience, but for most, such symptoms normally fade after a few weeks. Nevertheless, recognizing the early signs and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder is important, as it can incur long-lasting consequences for those who suffer from it. Physiological changes that occur in victims have a brutal effect on both neurological functions such as memory, as well as fear-response reactions. Seeping habits and the ability to deal with any stress can be disrupted. Physical complaints can range from headaches to immune system disruption, debilitating pain, and in some cases, asthma.

Depression and a sense of growing anxiety can lead to phobias, panic attacks, and behavioral changes. If you feel that someone you know is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, it’s extremely important that he or she gets help. It will not go away by itself. Anyone who has been diagnosed and is trying to recover needs the help of family, friends, and medical personnel to combat this invisible, yet debilitating condition. Post-traumatic stress disorder is not in the victim’s head and should be taken very seriously.

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