It is a continuous challenge living with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and I've suffered from it for most of my life. I can look back now and gently laugh at all the people who thought I had the perfect life. I was young, beautiful, and talented, but unbeknownst to them, I was terrorized by an undiagnosed debilitating mental illness.Read
If you suspect that you might suffer from PTSD, answer the questions below, print out the results and share them with your health care professional.
Are you troubled by the following?
My struggles with emotional and mental problems began at age 12, when I experienced my first nervous breakdown. At age 20 I was diagnosed with major depression. By the time I was 30 that diagnosis had changed to chronic major depression with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Later, ADHD and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) were added to my diagnoses. At age 40, and after three suicide attempts within two years, my therapist began to suspect that I suffered from bipolar disorder.Read
The main treatments for people with PTSD are psychotherapy (such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, or CBT), medications, or both. Everyone is different, so a treatment that works for one person may not work for another.
PTSD is diagnosed after a person experiences symptoms for at least one month following a traumatic event. However symptoms may not appear until several months or even years later. The disorder is characterized by three main types of symptoms:
Researchers found that D-cycloserine enhanced the effects of exposure therapy in a specific subgroup of patients with PTSD. In addition, those with more severe PTSD had a greater reduction in symptoms when they received DCS. (Biological Psychiatry, 71(11): 962-968) Read more.
It’s not unusual for people who have experienced traumatic events to have flashbacks, nightmares, or intrusive memories when something terrible happens -- like the explosions at the Boston Marathon.
Be tolerant of your nervous system: It’s having a normal reaction. Try not to get hooked to news reports, which may seem particularly compelling. Spend time with loved ones in favorite activities or outside in nature, and avoid alcohol.
Learn more below, including how to help children.
Chief of Psychiatry, Harborview Medical Center
Professor and Vice Chair, Department of Psychiatry
and Behavioral Sciences, University of Washington at Harborview Medical Center
Director, Center for Healthcare Improvement for Addictions, Mental Illness and Medically Vulnerable Populations (CHAMMP)