When we think of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) we often think of war veterans who struggle with coming home after serving honorably. We equate it to the traumatic events that happen on the battlefield. However, we know that PTSD is not exclusive to shell-shocked individuals. PTSD often can interrupt healthy patterns of life for many families, but is often mistaken for something else. Good clinical assessment can identify when PTSD is affecting the family, and how it can be treated.
What Causes PTSD?
Therapists know that there are all kinds of traumatic events that can lead to PTSD. Some examples that can lead up to PTSD include:
- car wrecks
- sexual abuse
- natural disasters
- intense fear
Repeated exposure to sudden, dangerous, or overwhelming events can also cause PTSD.
Those who give aid and help to others can develop PTSD by becoming traumatized while in the act of giving that help. For example, parents are at risk of developing PTSD when they help or support for a daughter suffering from PTSD.
PTSD is not exclusive to those who experience the actual event. A family perspective on the matter is needed.
Signs of PTSD
Every day we experience stressful events. Each individual and family has their own way of reacting to these stressful events and it can be hard to spot the signs of “Trauma”. If your daughter or family member has developed PTSD from a traumatic event, you may find that she has:
- flashbacks of the traumatic experience,
- have recurrent, involuntary, or intrusive memories.
Your daughter may also experience sleep disturbance, hyper vigilance, and reckless or aggressive behavior. The good news is that while there is not a drug that cures PTSD, it can be treated.
PTSD and Family
The family is a perfect place to address and work on treating PTSD. Family members know and understand the patterns of other family members well, and they can then identify when another family member is not acting as they normally would. This sheds light on to the nature and result of the traumatic experience on that individual’s life.
Another way working with the family helps is by allowing all in the family to be aware of triggers. At Sunrise Residesidential Treatment Center we use the family to help treat PTSD by:
- Focusing on Family Strengths. These strengths can be used together to develop healthier ways for the family to come together to better cope.
- Practicing Self-soothing Techniques. These techniques can help provide a healthy coping mechanism to the PTSD symptoms that affect your whole family.
If your daughter is struggling with PTSD, please know you don’t have to go through this alone. With the help of professionals, your family can learn the skill that promote a healthy and quick recovery.
By Jeron Parry, AMFT