PTSD (or post-traumatic stress disorder) is defined as a mental disease that develops from experiencing or witnessing a scarring event, for example combat, a disaster, a car accident, or sexual assault.
It is normal to have distressing memories of the moment that caused you to feel great trauma, feel on the edge, or have trouble sleeping. Most people, however, will start to improve and experience fewer symptoms after a few weeks or months.
If it has been longer than a few months, and you’re still having little-improved symptoms, you may have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). For some people with PTSD, symptoms may not develop until later, or they may come and go over a span of time. If your symptoms remain for more than three months, cause you torment or disrupt your home or work life, you should seek care from mental health professionals.
There are a few different strains of PTSD symptoms–though there is not one set way to experience PTSD–including having to relive the moment; avoiding events or places that may trigger it; unwanted changes toward beliefs and feelings; hyper alert of surroundings (often called hyperarousal).
Reliving the Event: For sufferers of PTSD, memories from the traumatic event can return at any time. Some sufferers feel the same level of fear as they did at the time of the event. Some common manifestations are: Nightmares; flashbacks, where you feel like you are going physically through the event again; and triggers, when you see, smell or hear something that leads to you mentally reliving the event. Some example of triggers are news reports, seeing an accident, or hearing a car backfire.
Avoiding Situations That Remind You of the Event:Some sufferers of PTSD may attempt to avoid triggers–people, situations, places, etc.–altogether. They may even avoid talking or thinking about the event.
Negative Changes in Thoughts and Feelings: Your self-image and the way you see others changes as a result of the trauma. The sufferer may: lose loving or good feelings towards other people, avoid relationships, feel detached, have issues with remembering certain moments of the event or avoid engaging in conversation about the topic, doesn’t think fondly of the rest of humanity and harbour serious trust issues.
Hyper Alert of Surroundings: The sufferer may be jittery and always on the lookout for danger. For example, they may become angry or irritable suddenly. The sufferer may: struggle to sleep; struggle concentrating; and become startled with loud noises or surprises.
PTSD can happen to any type of person. Although, there can be factors that can increase the likelihood. People are prone to having PTSD if the event is intense or long-lasting. If injured, it is more likely the person develops PTSD. PTSD is more common are specific types of trauma, including combat or sexual assault.
Personal factors can also impact whether or not someone will develop PTSD. These factors include age, gender, previous traumatic exposure, etc. Stress after the traumatic event can increase someone’s chances of developing PTSD, whereas healthy social support networks can make it less likely.
Medical Marijuana and PTSD
In a more personal and specific case, Marine Corps Veteran Roberto Pickering‘s nightmares had taken over his life. In response, he was drinking himself to death. He returned from Iraq, in 2003, haunted by PTSD. He had watched his friends die. Since home, he had sought relief. He was given fourteen types of drugs at one point. Pickering told NBC that he went cold turkey from the pills and turned to cannabis – he said it was between finding relief, or committing suicide.
If you or a family member match the symptoms of PTSD and don’t have a diagnosis, speak to a medical professional for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.