Healthy Huskies: What is PTSD?

PTSD stands for post-traumatic stress disorder. It is often the result of someone experiencing something traumatic. Those who suffer from is can experience unwanted flashbacks, nightmares, depression and feeling on edge. Illustration by Sarah Chantres/The Daily Campus

Content Warning: This article will discuss topics of sexual assault and rape  

When you hear the word PTSD, people often think of soldiers who have been through traumatic events. But PTSD does not only affect those who have been around war or extreme violence. What is PTSD and how can you start to heal from this condition?  

PTSD stands for post-traumatic stress disorder. PTSD is a mental disorder characterized by severe anxiety after a traumatic event. You can also experience unwanted flashbacks to the event, nightmares, depression and feeling on edge or avoid situations that remind you of the traumatic event. Oftentimes the symptoms of PTSD will prevent you from being able to go about your day normally.  

People can get PTSD through a variety of traumatic experiences and events. If you have experienced war or were a member of the military, you may return home with PTSD from all the trauma that you had experienced. PTSD can also happen through events such as a sexual assault or rape.  

These types of abuse are all too common on college campuses. In a 2016 report, it was stated that 1 in 10 female students at the University of Connecticut reported being sexually assaulted on campus. UConn was also tied with Brown University for the most reported campus rapes nationally in another 2016 report.  

There are also cases of PTSD due to long standing abuse or mistreatment as a child. C-PTSD, or complex PTSD, may also occur. This is when you have all the symptoms of PTSD but experience additional symptoms as well. You may have trouble regulating emotions or often feel distrust in people and the world around you. C-PTSD happens most often when you have longstanding or recurring traumatic events, such as domestic violence or childhood abuse.  

How do you know if you have PTSD? PTSD can be hard to grapple with especially in terms of childhood abuse or neglect. It’s hard to contend with the fact that people who were supposed to care for you may have traumatized you. If you are experiencing symptoms of PTSD or think that you may have some form of PTSD, it is worth your while to reach out to a mental health professional. They may be able to help diagnose you, or refer you to someone who can make an official diagnosis.  

While PTSD can be debilitating and hard to deal with, there is hope. EMDR, or eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy, is a type of therapy designed to help treat forms of PTSD. It works by having you move your eyes in a certain way as you recount traumatic memories. It can also work through handheld buzzers that buzz as you recount traumatic events or memories. EMDR helps reprocess memories and create new pathways in your brain that allow you to feel safer as you recount traumatic events or memories that you have gone through. Different types of therapy such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) can also help you heal from trauma. Certain medications can also help manage underlying anxiety or panic attacks, which then can open the door for more healing to happen.  

If you are struggling with a traumatic event, or think you may have PTSD it’s important to reach out for help. Student Health and Wellness has many counselors available to help and resources for referral if needed. Visit the SHaW website for more information or call 860-486-4705. If you or someone you know has experienced a sexual assault or rape on campus visit the Title IX website for more information.  

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