Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

By Sean Merchant, Clinical Intern

Hello. I want to talk to you about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, better known as PTSD. While some people have heard about this disorder, many misconceptions exist about PTSD. For instance, people may wrongly assume it means that a person who has PTSD is ‘dwelling’ on past events too much. Some might even suggest that the person who has PTSD that they should ‘get over it’ or ‘just move on.’ However, we must acknowledge that having PTSD is not a choice or a sign of someone being weak. Most importantly, for those suffering from PTSD, we must remember that you are not alone.

What is PTSD? First, we must know what types of traumatic events could cause PTSD. Many different harmful or life-threatening events might cause someone to develop PTSD. For example: being exposed to military combat, violent personal assault (like sexual assault, abuse, mugging), natural or man-made disasters, terrorist or active shooter attacks, serious accidents, or being told you or a loved one has a life-threatening illness are a few examples.

Traumatic events are unique to each person’s experiences and how it has affected them in varying ways from others. For example, a person’s stress tolerance can differ from someone else’s, and their sensitivity to neurological input affects one’s nervous system differently than others. Directly experiencing, witnessing a traumatic event, or learning about an event can cause PTSD. As a result, some may experience some or portion of or all of these symptoms from PTSD:

· Experiencing intrusive symptoms like flashbacks, nightmares, or intense mental reactions when reminded of the trauma experienced.

· Behaviors associated with avoiding and numbing, like a loss of interest in activities and life in general, feeling emotionally numb and detached from others.

· Changes in sleep, irritability, being hypervigilant, having angry outbursts, and aggressive or reckless behavior are a few of the behavior alterations.

· Changes in thoughts and moods like depression and hopelessness, feeling alienated and alone, difficulty concentrating or remembering things, and feeling guilt, shame, or self-blame.

These symptoms can affect everyday life, like being unable to do: self-hygiene, maintaining family, work, social functioning, changes in sex drive, and being unable to cope with change, to name a few. The impacts PTSD has on the person and those around them without treatment can be a constant wave where all will feel the disorder’s effects and try to sail smoothly together. Therefore, it is essential to contact professional mental health providers to get their help.

As a practicing Cognitive Behavioral Therapist and veteran with several military friends who have PTSD, there are treatments and hope for you or your loved one. Having a therapist with trauma-focused treatment is vital. We have several therapists that work in trauma. At Owens & Associates, we could help the family, couples, and children of the household of those with PTSD. I often inform my fellow veterans that struggle with PTSD that we are all part of a chain, interconnected and reliant on one another. Any service member understands the importance of the symbolic effect of that analogy that we are so closely interconnected. We understand that one link can be weakened; that it is important to come in and address the weakened link to shore up for battle. Life can be that way sometimes: a battle.

If you or someone you love is suffering from a traumatic event and battling through hard times, please call our office to speak with our team about services to help you. Please call us at 847-854-4333 or email us at for more information.