Traumatic Stress Levels & PTSD

Stressful Events – Post Traumatic Stress (PTSD) Symptoms

Christel B. D’Agostino, MSW, LCSW-R, CtH

In our modern world with earth changes, wars, terrorism the number of people which experience more than one trauma within their life-time appears to be on the rise.

Stressful Events Within One Year

As a yardstick to evaluate whether a person experiences ‘too’ much stress within one year, stress scales have been devised. They measure the number of stressful events in a person’s life, and at what point the individual exceeds a tolerable stress level. The individual will then be advised to minimize stress.

A few of the stress factors are:

Adults:

– Illness of self or others
– Loss of a loved one
– Divorce
– Work conflicts
– Changing Jobs
– Loss of job
– Marital conflicts
– Moving
– Family conflicts
– Irregular meals/sleep

Children and Students:

– Problems at school/college – Moving
– Conflicts with peers           – Family problems
– Loss of Loved One             – Irregular meals/sleep

Physical Consequences of ‘Too’ Much Stress

Within the last few decades we have learned that too much stress in a person’s life may eventually entail unexpected consequences for the human body: Hypertension, heart attacks, stomach upsets, diabetes…to mention a few.

Trauma Added on to Stressful Events

Any kind of trauma, whether natural disaster, accidents, violence of a physical or emotional nature, exceeds our regular point scale for stressful events and may overextend our natural coping mechanisms.

As such, left defenseless within its own physical limitations, our body may not be able to tolerate the onslaught of trauma without severe physical, mental, emotional or spiritual repercussions.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

The American Psychiatric Association lists Post Traumatic Stress (PTS) as mental disorder (PTSD) for individuals with certain symptoms after severe trauma.
Here is a brief summary of the most prevalent symptoms

– Persistent re-experience of events through flashbacks, nightmares, etc.
– Feelings of powerlessness, high anxiety levels, depression
– Survivor guilt, revenge fantasies
– Guilt of having killed innocent lives 
– Shame – Military Sexual Trauma (MST)

– Negative self-image, loss of purpose and meaning, suicidal ideation
– Feelings of loneliness, alienation, hopelessness, problems with intimacy
– Hypervigilance, outbursts of rage, adrenaline rush, insomnia
– Avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma, e.g. avoiding
anything that might trigger flashbacks or fear of losing control, e.g.
sounds, smells, touch, movement, crowded streets, TV, reading
materials
– Significant conflicts with family, at work, other social settings
– Symptoms may last longer than one month, even years

Since one trauma alone exceeds the regular stress scale, PTSD with its severe symptoms hits the roof. A body deserves to readjust to a healthy lifestyle for the mind to rediscover purpose and meaning of life.


 

 

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