403.277.8387 #114 - 4303 26 Street NE · Calgary · Alberta · T1Y 7K2


Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

July 27th 2023
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a complex and often misunderstood mental health condition that can affect anyone who has experienced or witnessed a traumatic event. Though it's natural to feel upset and shaken after a distressing experience, PTSD is more than just a transient reaction – that is a temporary response; instead, it's a persistent and debilitating condition that requires attention and understanding. As with any illness, PTSD isn't a monolith, and symptoms look different in different people. Understanding those symptoms and how they may affect each person will go a long way in showing compassion and empathy to friends, loved ones, or even strangers you may come across.

A Brief History

PTSD emerged from the term "shell shock," dating back to World War I. It may come as a surprise to learn that the earliest known reference of PTSD, combat stress reaction, or any other label meaning the same thing is believed to date back to Herodotus' telling of Epizelus. The Athenian spear carrier had psychogenic mutism after the Marathon Wars, which took place in 490 BCE. There are earlier accounts of such post-combat disorders in Mesopotamia (now known as Iraq) in 1300-609 BCE, over 3,000 years ago. It wasn't until 1980 that the APA's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders added PTSD to their list, and even then, it was highly controversial.

Re-experiencing the Trauma

One of the hallmark symptoms of PTSD is the involuntary reliving of the traumatic event, which can occur through distressing flashbacks, nightmares, or intrusive memories. People with PTSD struggle to escape the intense emotional and physical sensations associated with the trauma, even if the event occurred long ago. Sight, smell, taste, or sound can easily trigger memories of the traumatic event.

Avoidance and Emotional Numbing

Individuals with PTSD often go to great lengths to avoid reminders of the trauma. They may avoid places, people, or activities that trigger distressing memories. Additionally, they might become emotionally distant, unable to experience joy or love, as if numbed to emotions to protect themselves from being overwhelmed.

Hyperarousal and Hypervigilance

PTSD can lead to heightened arousal, causing individuals to be constantly on edge, easily startled, and excessively vigilant. They may struggle to relax or have difficulty sleeping due to persistent feelings of being unsafe or threatened. During celebratory events such as a parade or fireworks show, a person living with PTSD could very likely have their flight or fight instinct triggered as their brain has learned that response to a dangerous situation.

Negative Changes in Cognition and Mood

PTSD can significantly impact a person's thoughts and emotions. They may experience persistent negative beliefs about themselves, others, or the world, leading to a distorted outlook on life. Depressed mood, guilt, shame, and an inability to experience positive emotions can be daily struggles for those with PTSD.

Emotional Triggers and Irritability

Individuals with PTSD may have a reduced tolerance for stress and be prone to sudden outbursts of anger or irritability. Small things that wouldn't usually provoke a reaction might trigger intense emotional responses due to the underlying trauma.

Social Withdrawal

Facing PTSD can be isolating. Individuals might find it challenging to establish meaningful connections with others as they harbour apprehensions about being truly understood. Social withdrawal is a common coping mechanism to shield themselves from potential triggers or judgment.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder can be a debilitating condition that affects all aspects of a person's life. Recognizing the signs of PTSD is crucial for early intervention and providing support to those who are suffering. If you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms, please seek professional help from a mental health provider. Remember, healing from PTSD is possible with the appropriate support and treatment. Together, we can create a world where those living with PTSD can find the strength to overcome their unseen scars and thrive once again.

The Veterans Food Bank of Alberta plays a crucial role in supporting both first responders and veterans struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This invaluable initiative recognizes the immense sacrifices made by these brave individuals in service to their country and communities. PTSD can pose significant challenges to their mental and emotional well-being, making it difficult to navigate everyday life, including accessing basic necessities like food. The Veterans Food Bank steps in to provide a lifeline, offering nutritious meals and essential groceries to those in need. By doing so, it not only addresses their physical sustenance but also serves as a beacon of hope, reminding them that they are not alone in their struggles. This support fosters a sense of community and understanding, assuring them that their contributions are appreciated, and their welfare is a top priority. The initiative exemplifies the power of compassion and solidarity, reinforcing the bond between first responders, veterans, and the wider community, creating a nurturing environment for healing and recovery.

Click to close