Did you know that the National Institute of Mental Health estimates that between 7 and 8 people out of every 100 are regularly diagnosed with PTSD every year? Additionally, mental health professionals believe that many silent sufferers may never reach out and get help to improve their quality of life. It’s believed that over 10% of the entire population could be needlessly continuing to struggle day in and day out.
What is PTSD?
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition people may develop after being subjected to long periods of terrifying, shocking, and dangerous events. The human mind isn’t set to be placed in situations of undue stress but is simultaneously exceptional at survival. This means that when put into extreme situations, your brain will kick into survival mode and do everything to protect you. Once the events causing the long-term damage have ended, the brain switches out of the sympathetic nervous system, designed to survive at all costs, and the parasympathetic system takes over. However, our thoughts and emotions related to the shock and trauma make it hard for your brain to separate safe current events from dangerous events in the past. This results in an adverse mental health condition called PTSD, pushing the nervous system out of balance.
Not everyone who lives through scary and dangerous events will indeed experience PTSD. In fact, there is no way to predict precisely who will be affected and who will walk away from events relatively unscathed. However, as we pay more and more attention to our mental health and keep learning more about mental health issues, it becomes evident there are more silent sufferers than we had even imagined. The National Institute of Mental Health outlines several risk factors that increase the likelihood of developing PTSD.
A non-exhaustive list of risks encountered over prolonged periods can include:
- Severe danger
- Serious injury or near-death circumstances
- Witnessing the injury or death of another
- Prolonged feelings of horror and extreme fear
- Awareness of your inability to help or fix a situation
- Lack of social support after the event in question
All of the above situations can be and are regularly experienced by soldiers returning from combat. If you are a veteran and you’ve lived through events that caused your brain to go into prolonged periods of “fight or flight” responses, you may be living with post-traumatic stress disorder, and you are definitely not alone.
It can be hard to recognize when our brains should have moved out of survival mode and we should feel safe and content. As human beings, we intrinsically understand that our experiences shape the direction of our lives and personality. In the same way that we are never the same after losing a loved one or the birth of our children, we likely do not expect to be the same person after being in a war zone. You would be 100% correct in that assertion; very few veterans return from war without bringing back those experiences.
However, the Mayo Clinic, a top-ranked medical organization, outlines some early warning signs that might indicate PTSD. It’s important to note that untreated PTSD often intensifies over time, so identifying symptoms at an early stage can lead to earlier, faster, and more effective treatment. Some of the initial indications to watch out for can be:
- Being jumpy, easily startled, or frightened
- Constantly being on guard since removal from the inciting incidents
- Self-destructive and impulsive decisions such as drug or alcohol use or gambling
- New or intensifying issues surrounding sleep and bad dreams
- A developing lack of concentration
- Recent bouts of irrational irritation or signs of aggressive behavior
- Cloying survivor’s guilt and shame
Changes in personality from before the traumatic events are one of the leading indicators that you are experiencing mental shock, so check-ins with loved ones can be the best way for early detection.
Triggers in Daily Life
As your brain changes due to the trauma you’ve experienced, it will likely interfere with your capacity to interact with regular events. Regarding your mental health, anything that impacts your emotional state or causes distress is often referred to as a “trigger.” In regard to PTSD, common triggers include sights, smells, sounds, crowds, and physical sensations that can cause your brain to regress to the unhealed distress it has suffered. Understandably, there’s only so much control any person can exact over their environment, and PTSD can make it exceedingly difficult to manage your reactions to stimulation when your brain perceives danger.
PTSD and Professional Workplaces
Mental health is a tricky barrier to navigate and tends to make us want to isolate ourselves from others. Crowds and loud noises can be triggers and negatively impact our ability to concentrate. A relatively common symptom of combat-related PTSD is known as hyperarousal, which is a state of feeling of constantly being observed by the people surrounding you. When you can’t control the lies your brain tells you, this hypervigilance of your surroundings can lead to you being jittery, overreactive, and constantly seeking signs of danger. In short, being in a work setting can be an unfortunate situation to prime you for a flashback or other negative behaviors linked to your PTSD.
Unfortunately, working is not optional for many of us, and not every employer offers remote employment solutions. These combining factors can make dealing with PTSD a significant challenge regarding returning to work after discharging from your duty of service.
Ways to Manage your PTSD while at Work
Block Out Distractions
Where possible, wear headphones or earplugs to lessen surrounding ambient sounds. Here at Spirit Peak Organics, we love pink or brown noise. Pink noise is more intense at lower frequencies creating deep sounds; examples of this are steady rain, heartbeats, or the inside of an airplane cabin. Brown noise is deeper than pink noise and can include waterfalls and thunder. A study in 2017 shows positive links between repetitive low-frequency noises and the body’s calming regulation.
Take Small and Frequent Breaks
Find places you can be alone, whether 5 minutes in a bathroom or taking your lunch in a quiet and uncrowded area. It’s perfectly okay to acknowledge that you need a few minutes to recenter yourself.
If your job has later and less staffed shifts, these hours might be perfect for you while you find ways to your new mental health equilibrium. Having fewer people around you can lessen your symptoms and give you more opportunities to take the mental break you need.
Living with your New Normal
The best way to get the support you need is to reach out to the people in the best position to assist. Let your managers know you require additional assistance with modified work situations. Work with mental professionals to help build a toolbox of instruments to help you. Most importantly, be kind to yourself as you move through this new normal. Currently, no definitive cure-only treatments exist, and no two people will respond to these treatments the same. Be patient with your journey, some days will be better than others, and no one should do this alone.
Spirit Peak Organics is also here to help you on your journey to recovery. While everyone responds to products differently, we strongly recommend our Softgel Melatonin since melatonin is a hormone naturally produced by your body soon after the onset of darkness to promote sleep. Since disturbed sleep is a known symptom of PTSD and sleep is instrumental in health, anything that aids in a better night can help ease struggles throughout the day. We offer one-time purchases to allow you to try it as well as monthly subscriptions to help with significant savings.