Today, I woke up to the violence in Las Vegas, the News Ad. reading: “Las Vegas Strip shooting: More than 50 dead, 400 others injured.” USA Today: cover page. I was in shock and I thought three things: What, Why, and Who? As I listened to the story I was, waiting for friends to call about the shock, looking on tweeter and Facebook and like normal no one seemed to care. Just people on there way to work, not missing a beat, getting their coffee, kids off to school, getting ready for work. Same old stuff.
I asked myself “Are we so immune to violence that nothing but actually horror will move us to empathy or caring?” The last weeks we’ve had three hurricane’s threatening, and two made land fall, destroying Houston, The entire land mass of Florida, the Caribbean Island and the Island of Puerto. Do we even care? or is it something else?
I believe it could be something else. I believe that most American’s have PTSD.
PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) is a mental health problem that some people develop after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event, like combat, a natural disaster, a car accident, or sexual assault.
It’s normal to have upsetting memories, feel on edge, or have trouble sleeping after this type of event. At first, it may be hard to do normal daily activities, like go to work, go to school, or spend time with people you care about. But most people start to feel better after a few weeks or months.
If it’s been longer than a few months and you’re still having symptoms, you may have PTSD. For some people, PTSD symptoms may start later on, or they may come and go over time.
- Reliving the event (also called re-experiencing symptoms). You may have bad memories or nightmares. You even may feel like you’re going through the event again. This is called a flashback.
- Avoiding situations that remind you of the event. You may try to avoid situations or people that trigger memories of the traumatic event. You may even avoid talking or thinking about the event.
- Having more negative beliefs and feelings. The way you think about yourself and others may change because of the trauma. You may feel guilt or shame. Or, you may not be interested in activities you used to enjoy. You may feel that the world is dangerous and you can’t trust anyone. You might be numb, or find it hard to feel happy.
- Feeling keyed up (also called hyper-arousal). You may be jittery, or always alert and on the lookout for danger. Or, you may have trouble concentrating or sleeping. You might suddenly get angry or irritable, startle easily, or act in unhealthy ways (like smoking, using drugs and alcohol, or driving recklessly. Department of Veterans Affairs (2017)
People with PTSD may also have other problems. These include:
- Feelings of hopelessness, shame, or despair
- Depression or anxiety
- Drinking or drug problems
- Physical symptoms or chronic pain
- Employment problems
- Relationship problems, including divorce (D.V.A, 2017)
As a nation we have been through a lot of thing just in my life time but also over history: Desert Storm, Desert Shield, Clinton years, Bush years, Obama years, the stock market meltdown, 9/11, Trump election, Police brutality, School Shootings, Heroin epidemic etc. So as a nation we are sick and in need of some type of therapy.
What treatments are available?
Psychotherapy for PTSD
Psychotherapy, or counseling, involves meeting with a therapist.
- Trauma-focused psychotherapy, which focuses on the memory of the traumatic event or its meaning, is the most effective treatment for PTSD. There are different types of trauma-focused psychotherapy, such as:
- Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) where you learn skills to understand how trauma changed your thoughts and feelings. Changing how you think about the trauma can change how you feel.
- Prolonged Exposure (PE) where you talk about your trauma repeatedly until memories are no longer upsetting. This will help you get more control over your thoughts and feelings about the trauma. You also go to places or do things that are safe, but that you have been staying away from because they remind you of the trauma.
- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), which involves focusing on sounds or hand movements while you talk about the trauma. This helps your brain work through the traumatic memories. (DVA, 2017)
Or we can start treating people with a little more respect, love, empathy, kindness, because we have been through a lot!!!