Friday, September 09, 2005


For those unfamiliar, it means Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder:
PTSD is a psychiatric disorder that can follow life-threatening events such as military combat, natural disasters, terrorist incidents, serious accidents, or violent personal assaults like rape, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. People who have PTSD often relive the experience through nightmares and flashbacks, have difficulty sleeping, and feel detached or estranged. Symptoms can be severe enough and last long enough to significantly impair the person's daily life.
Turns out that having PTSD has some dramatic consequences:
U.S. Army veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) had twice the death rate within 30 years of service as veterans who didn't have PTSD, according to new study results from researchers at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City.

Causes of death included cardiovascular disease, cancer, and "external causes" like suicide or traffic accidents, the researchers said in a statement. About half the 15,000 male veterans surveyed served in the Vietnam War, and the rest in wars in Europe or Korea.
But what about this:
THURSDAY, Sept. 8 (HealthDay News) -- Faced with the enormity of their losses, many survivors of Hurricane Katrina are experiencing depths of emotional trauma that even specialists barely understand.

Not only did many victims lose their homes and family members, but countless numbers were literally cast adrift for days with little or no help from society. Psychologists simply haven't spent much time studying this kind of devastating multiple blow, said Mary Ann Dutton, a professor of psychiatry at Georgetown University.

"One kind of traumatic experience piled on another makes for more complicated effects," Dutton explained. "Most of our research is focused on a single kind of trauma."
Ok. Let's add it up. A hurricane, flood, sitting on a roof, losing your house and property, the deaths of friends and loved ones, being moved to a shelter where no one comes to help, watching people die.....hmmm, wonder why some folks might have exercised some poor judgement at times? Frankly, it's really quite amazing there hasn't been a out and out insurrection.

I used to work with trauma survivors. I can tell you the impact on normal functioning is tremendously disabling. The symptoms leave the victim chronically having periods of feeling like they are going to literally imminently die. Immediate treatment performed by those specializing in trauma is crucial. And I'm not just talking about triage, but each victim needing around 10 sessions (minimally) of intense psychotherapeutic treatment. Without that, watch the effects of PTSD ripple through society like a stone thrown into a pond.

I thought it was said very well here:
I remember what a friend told me once, "hurting people hurt people." We must help heal the hurt.
I hope these people get the help they'll desperately need.


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