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Pandemic Adds to Incidence of PTSD

Published: Feb. 2, 2022 at 11:16 PM CST
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Approximately one in 11 people will be diagnosed with PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder according to the American Psychiatric Association.

Women are twice as likely to develop the condition as men. But other than that, it doesn’t matter what kind of job you have or even how old you are.

Dr. Sarah Wakefield, Chairman of Psychiatry at the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center, says the symptoms can vary, but commonly it looks like a panic attack.

She explains, “Heart beating faster, breathing faster, feeling like you need to get away, get away from a crowd or get away from a stressor, get in a place where you feel like you have more control.” She adds the trigger for PTSD comes from an overactive part of our nervous system. Sometimes the symptoms may progress to a point where thinking shuts down and the person actually blacks out and forgets what just happened. She says many health care workers are experiencing PTSD after the unexpected trauma they have witnessed during the pandemic. She says, “They have seen extreme death, repetitive deaths more, even if they have worked in an ICU setting in the past, you know, more death over the last two years than they have seen previously.”

There is also a real concern we might see more PTSD among children exposed to domestic violence with people at home more during the stress of the pandemic.

So what can you do to help?

She says, “When someone that you know is in the middle of a PTSD episode, it is very important not to increase their arousal. So not yelling, not increasing noise around them trying to decrease those stimuli, any kind of triggering stimuli in the environment. The other thing is to tell them, You’re safe. I don’t see anything here. That is dangerous. Right now, I know you’re feeling like there, this is a dangerous situation, but you’re safe. This is a safe place. I’m here with you.”

Dr. Wakefield wants us to remember that PTSD doesn’t mean there is something wrong with that person. It means they have been through a difficult situation.

The important thing to tell them is that there is treatment available.

Help starts with getting them to talk to a doctor or a counselor who can guide them in the direction of the support they need to heal.

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