Are you at risk for PTSD?
You feel like you’re on pins and needles or that your life will never be normal again. One minute you’re worried to death and the next you want to scream bloody murder—or maybe you do.
The good news: this is normal in the first days and weeks following the wildfires. If you must cope with difficult settlements, it may last even longer.
The bad news: If your feelings don’t start leveling out and returning to normal in a reasonable time, then you may be headed for PTSD. Resilience is really the key. Most everyone goes through the wild and crazy stuff in the beginning. But if it continues beyond a couple of months, you may be suffering from PTSD.
Be on the lookout for these common symptoms (from the American Psychological Society).
- Feelings remain intense and sometimes unpredictable.
- Flashbacks: repeated and vivid memories of the event that lead to physical reactions such as rapid heartbeat or sweating
- Confusion or difficulty making decisions
- Sleep or eating issues
- Fear that the emotional event will be repeated
- A change in interpersonal relationship skills, such as an increase in conflict or difficulty interacting socially that you didn’t experience before.
- Physical symptoms such as headaches, nausea and chest pain
If you do suspect PTSD, it’s important to get help. Without treatment, many PTSD suffers eventually use drugs and/or alcohol to get temporary relief from unwanted emotions. And this of course can lead to addiction.
Get help here.
Experts suggest you let yourself vent to family, friends and neighbors often. The Center for Disaster Medical Science at UC Irvine has a Listen, Protect and Connect guide that explains how the people around you can help. It’s free and available online as a pdf. https://www.ready.gov/sites/default/files/documents/files/LPC_Booklet.pdf The American Red Cross offers a free 24/7 Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990 or text “TalkWithUs’ to 66746. Also consider seeing a mental health professional. Call your medical insurance to find out what they cover. Or contact your local public health center for information about services in your community.
Children are highly susceptible to PTSD after a natural disaster, especially when a home is destroyed. After all, their entire security blanket has just been wrenched from them. Look for the article "Is Your Child At Risk of PTSD?" elsewhere in this learning center
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