THERE ARE MANY OPINIONS FLOATING AROUND ABOUT PTSD. MANY ARE MISCONCEPTIONS, SOME I’VE ALREADY ADDRESSED, SUCH AS VETERANS BEING THE ONLY ONES WHO SUFFER FROM PTSD, AND SYMPTOMS SHOWING UP IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE TRAUMA. BOTH OF THOSE STATEMENTS ARE FALSE.
There are a number of helpful articles online that expose the myths and I’m going to quote some from a few different sites.
Because I’m coming at this from a Christian perspective, I’m not quoting recommendations for psychotherapy and heavy and continuous medications to address PTSD. The fact is, as a Christian, we have the Holy Spirit to guide and the power of God to help us address and process the emotions and wounds. We also have Jesus to walk with us though our healing journey, making the requirement for secular therapies, I personally believe, unnecessary.
Everyone’s healing journey will be different, but we cannot discount the intervention of His Spirit in the process and the ability He can give us to heal and overcome, and through it all become a blessing to others.
PTSD: TRUE AND FALSE
HERE ARE THE MYTHS AND MISCONCEPTIONS I FOUND TO BE THE MOST HELPFUL TO SHARE HERE:
Myth: Everyone who experiences a life-threatening event will develop PTSD
Actually, most people who are exposed to qualifying events will not get PTSD at all, and many see a natural decrease in symptoms over the months following an incident. The number of people who receive a diagnosis after a PTSD-level event ranges from less than 10% of individuals after more than 12 months of exposure to general trauma to37% of people exposed to intentional trauma (an attack as opposed to an accident or natural disaster).
Myth: Only people who are weak get PTSD
It’s not really clear why some people get PTSD and others don’t. Women are twice as likely to be diagnosed with it than men are, however women are more likely to be diagnosed with many mental disorders because they are more likely to seek help, and therefore receive a diagnosis. People who are exposed to interpersonal trauma, such as sexual assault or warfare, are more likely to have PTSD symptoms than survivors of accidents or natural disasters. Social support is also important to trauma resilience. None of these factors have anything to do with inner strength though. In fact, it’s possible that an especially strong defense system is the culprit.
MYTH: People should be able to move on with their lives after a traumatic event. Those who can’t cope are weak.
FACT: Many people who experience an extremely traumatic event go through an adjustment period following the experience. Most of these people are able to return to leading a normal life. However, the stress caused by trauma can affect all aspects of a person’s life, including mental, emotional and physical well-being. Research suggests that prolonged trauma may disrupt and alter brain chemistry. For some people, a traumatic event changes their views about themselves and the world around them. This may lead to the development of PTSD.
PTSD sufferers are mentally weak: Like other mental illnesses, PTSD is considered by the uninformed to be characteristic of mental weakness. In reality, the effects of the disorder can be traced to specific traumatic events that are incomprehensible to people who haven’t experienced them. The period of recovery isn’t comparable to what people endure after stressful events such as divorce or losing a job, and how they psychologically handle the trauma varies from person to person. PTSD is recognized by the American Medical Association (AMA), American Psychiatric Association (APA), Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
PTSD sufferers aren’t victims: Without question, PTSD sufferers are victims. They’ve encountered events that, in most cases, were beyond their control and very few people experience during their lifetimes. They lack the psychological capabilities to recover from such traumas and thus need help in order to cope. PTSD is not something that should be taken lightly. It’s not something that can be ignored and forgotten. Individuals with the disorder need professional help to endure the symptoms that inhibit them from functioning normally day to day.
PTSD sufferers are always unstable and violent: Symptoms of PTSD vary depending on the person with the disorder. Angry outbursts and violence don’t always occur, even if the illness was brought forth by events involving violent crime and torture. Ultimately, how a person reacts to a traumatic event is dependent on their individual attributes and sensibilities. For example, additional symptoms may include memory disturbances and the inability to connect and reconnect with others. The severity of each symptom increases and decreases and almost never remains constant.
PTSD is limited to a specific age group: Children are vulnerable to PTSD too despite their apparent resilience to mental stress. In fact, a recent study undertaken by University of Miami psychologist Dr. Annette La Greca showed that children exhibit signs of PTSD two years after a natural disaster. Twenty-one months after the event, 29 percent reported moderate to severe PTSD symptoms. During a family’s recovery from a catastrophic hurricane, for example, a child may struggle with adjusting to a new environment, where they may be without their friends and some of their family, making the recovery even more difficult.
Recovery is impossible: Dealing with PTSD may seem like an unwinnable battle, but with the proper commitment, it can be defeated. Note that recovery is a subjective term depending on the patient. While symptoms of PTSD can be eradicated, some may define recovery as simply functioning effectively with the disorder. There are numerous PTSD support groups in existence with members willing to share their success stories. It’s a great way to build hope when the illness is adamantly against it.
During my years of ministry to Vietnam vets and their family members I’ve seen the Lord do some amazing healing. Getting Him involved in the process brings everything together and is a testimony to how He can use broken vessels. He may never heal us completely of all our PTSD symptoms, but because He is faithful to walk with us and help us heal and grow, He is able to use our traumas and the resulting journey as a tool to comfort others with the comfort we ourselves have been comforted with.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.