GO! Smell the post traumatic stress, flowers

Posted on September 12th, 2008 by Jim

Following GSTF Founder Taylor Blue’s lively, timely and excellent post on 9/11 we have learnt that a new study by the World Trade Center Health Registry claims that the 9/11 terrorist attack led to some 70,000 people developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The public health registry was created right after September 11, 2001 to track the health effects of the disastrous attack. In addition, between 4,000 and 12,600 have developed asthma due to the traumatic event.

Women, minorities, and low-income participants had higher rates of physical and mental problems, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said. Katherine L. Muller, director of psychology training and director of the Cognitive Behavior Therapy Program at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, told journalists that more and more people were reaching natural recovery from the traumatic experiences of 9/11.

What can society do to help post traumatic stress victims years on after the event? Do tell – Is it possible to ever get over being so close to such a mammoth event that shook the world?


27 Responses to “GO! Smell the post traumatic stress, flowers”

  1. I’m glad you included a picture of a brain, but it isn’t like Homer Simpson’s because with PTSD there are actual changes in the neuropathways of the brain that automatically trigger symptoms. If you know of someone, who is still having symptoms that interfere with daily life, encourage them to seek professional treatment. They will probably require counseling to learn how to manage the symptoms and to work through the traumas and possibly medication. It should be noted, that anniversary dates, such as yesterday or significant dates if they lost someone is normal. Encourage them just to talk about their experiences. On a social site where I have a blog, I shared my experience that day and put together a memorial slideshow which helped me. Others did the same. I also encouraged people to comment on my blog about their experience of that day which was quite helpful and was my most popular blog ever and the most popular one yesterday on that site. People need to tell their story sometimes even if they don’t have PTSD. Also, the person themselves may know what would be helpful. It could be helping someone else that day, attending a memorial service, doing something artistic, volunteering, etc… Remember, that everyone grieves in a different manner and to respect that and that everyone has their own pace. 9/11 is a loss and a grieving process. The stages are Shock, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and acceptance. It is not a linear path and you and the other person may jump back and forth between different stages.

    If get over it means that you are no longer effected, my answer would be “no.” However, one can learn to manage symptoms and gradually reduce reactions to reminders of the events. But, the closer you are to it or if you lost someone, I think there will always be some sadness or anger. Now, if it seems excessive, out of proportion to their circumstances then they require professional help. It is most likely that they they have not learned how to manage their emotions in a healthy manner or it has triggered something else that needs to be attended to.

    ClinicallyCluelesss last blog post..September 11, 2001 ~ Remember

    • Gareth in Thailand says:

      I thought her husband was a useless small green bottle of ale from Germany not a basketball playing cast off from Pans Pineapple.
      Thanks for the pointer EJ, might have made a right puddin of myself at the farm down the road in Sattahip that grows loads of pineapples. I’ve checked now and they have a footballer called Jason Little there who mcuks out the pigs and fixes the tractor and oll that, used to play for that team in the middle of all those trees, Nottingham Forest or something- ask O’DB – he loves them he does and will know much more about it than me, in fact ask O’DB about anything to do with exessive growth of folliage and bush, he’s a bloomin expert from all accounts in his younger days.

      Keep posting EJ, makes my day and my Wawa loves hearing from you too.

      • O'DB says:

        Close – but no cigar.

        Jason Lee, ex-Forest player, & apparently ‘has a pineapple on his head’ or so the opposition fans would suggest. But Jason Lee, not the aforementioned Jason Little. And not Jason Lee, ex skate-board champ, & now fully paid-up Scientologist & star of the ace comedy, ‘My Name is Earl’, loosely based around Karmic Justice.

        Foolishly went to see Forest at the, er, mighty Preston North End last night. Lost 2-1, & we now languish below the riseble D*rby C*nty. Utter junk.

        The growth of jungle – ahh yes, from my young gun days where i had a nasty case of jungle fever; forever rooting around in all kinds of bush & undergrowth. Ohh Happy Days (cue The Fonz, etc., blah).

      • Jim says:

        OD’B ya need an Avatar from gravatar, that pale / grey look doesn’t suit you…..

        Tis in the post towards the top of this here blog.

      • O'DB says:

        No, I disagree: the pale & grey suits me, & probably so much more defining & accurate than one of them cheating, lying camery-photy thingamabobs.

    • Jim & Em says:

      Thanks for this CC…..its a great insight.

      • Thank you! I will tell you that PTSD is extremely painful, disrupting and intrusive. At least that has been my experience. But, it is treatable!!!

        ClinicallyCluelesss last blog post..Bloggers Launch TrainforHumanity.org ~ Humanitarian Initiative

        • aussiecynic says:

          PTSD is horrid…. can lead to panic attacks, anxiety attacks, depression, health issues, phobias, and all manner if problems…
          and triggers done need to be the standard such as an event such 9/11.. it can be as simple as driving along a street or house, or a person that looks like someone..
          Management is the key because you can actually never be cured.. but even management is tough and as with all illness you have good and bad days..
          PTSD is one of those things which also can be misdiagnosed because it has all these other effects…
          Treating it is one thing medications as well understanding.. the person with it also needs to understand what is happening to them and why and actually accepting it helps almost as much as the medication can the other thing which helps is if the person can forgive themselves and stop beating themselves up because of a bad day…. but works with most illnesses..
          I do like your ideas on your blog CC and it appears to help many which can only be congratulated…
          well done mate..

        • Thank you!! A trigger can even be as simple as an similar odor or seeing a small rock. I’ve been enjoying your blog too. I need some lightness in my life too. I guess, some of that comes out here.

          ClinicallyCluelesss last blog post..Courageous Steps ~ New Blog

    • Bridget Jones says:

      And listen youz EJ, youz should stop digressing now you should, that’s Miss Jones’ prerogative it is! She is the founder of the Digression Club, not you ha! :P

      • Jim & Em says:

        GET OVER TO FORUMS ELT, DIGRESS AWAY THERE :-)

      • O'DB says:

        Yea I’m a frickin’ genius; an IQ of at least 88.

        Me & Forrest Gump (there it is again, can’t get away from the damn foliage verbiage) could pretty much run this planet if we put our noggins together. ‘FG’, the film, was on TV night before last – love it, & i’m sufficiently sentimental that i go all dewy-eyed at practically every scene involving the standard requirement love-interest, ‘Jenny’.

  2. Lib says:

    I am by no means saying that PTSD doesnt exist but isn’t it a lot easier to say that you have it nowadays?

    More and more people are suffering from it but is that because there is more to suffer from or were our feelings handled very differently years ago when it was unheard of?

    How did people cope back then? Or didn’t they?

    Did our ancestors suffer from it? Or is it another medical bandwagon?

    So many questions.

    • I think that there are more people being diagnosed because of awareness and because there are more traumatic events. I wasn’t until fairly recently that people began to associate it with child abuse or even considered it an actual disorder. I used to be associated with war veterans (shell shock) and they did not receive treatment and suffered in silence or made a mess of their lives (alcohol, drug abuse, suicide. With non-military, it probably was the “cause” of the “nervous breakdown.” Until 1980, it was called a syndrome and not a disorder which made people take it more seriously. This is NOT another medical bandwagon. It has it’s own established diagnosis and treatment. Some of the difficulty is that people think that it is an excuse. For me, it has caused be to be unable to work, have constant intrusive flashbacks of my abuse, sleep disorders, dissociation, being hypervigilant, easily startled, and panic attacks etc. This was not present until I started remembering my abuse; hence, the diagnosis. Most are diagnosed much, much earlier. It can often be mistaken for personality disorders, mood disorders (depression, bipolar, anxiety) or even psychosis. The following is from the National Institue for Mental Health and is an extremely brief summary:

      What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?
      Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD, is an anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened. Traumatic events that may trigger PTSD include violent personal assaults, natural or human-caused disasters, accidents, or military combat.

      Signs & Symptoms
      People with PTSD have persistent frightening thoughts and memories of their ordeal and feel emotionally numb, especially with people they were once close to. They may experience sleep problems, feel detached or numb, or be easily startled.

      Treatment
      Effective treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder are available, and research is yielding new, improved therapies that can help most people with PTSD and other anxiety disorders lead productive, fulfilling lives.

      To obtain much more complete information you can go to one of the following links:

      http://www.medicinenet.com/posttraumatic_stress_disorder/article.htm
      http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/go/ptsd

      Also, continue this thread if you have more questions…I don’t mind being open about my own life or explaining PTSD. I’m glad that you ask good questions.

      ClinicallyCluelesss last blog post..Bloggers Launch TrainforHumanity.org ~ Humanitarian Initiative

      • Jim & Em says:

        Thanks for sharing these links CC, brilliant!

      • Lib says:

        Thanks CC hugely for this info and I wouldn’t wish PTSD on anyone but having read Bridget’s comment below, there is a part of me that agrees.

        Are we better off not knowing about PTSD? That way our brains are allowed to try and cope rather than being armed with the knowledge of another route it can take.

        I am obviously writing this not having to have dealt (thank goodness) with any kind of trauma (apart from the rejection of Ryan Gosling) so on this occasion I bow completely to your superior knowledge.

        One question that remains is it possible for the brain to recover totally? Or do you just have to learn to live with it?

        • Bridget Jones says:

          Ohlala! Lib agrees with little Bridget (okay, just in part, but still!) and Gareth just plain agrees (well, at least he thinks he does! ;) )

          Man, there’s gonna be no living with Miss Jones now ha! :P

          Shall I start a fan club? :P

      • Sarah says:

        great information. thanks for sharing. i have never heard about this before but the tragedy itself is indeed traumatic.

        Sarahs last blog post..A Busy Bee and A Lazy Worm

    • Well, Lib…I hope I have some answers for you. I guess my first reply was rejected as spam due to the htmls in there. I had links to sites that would give you more information. Let me see what I write this time. It is easier to say that you have it now because it was not until 1980 that it was recognized as a disorder before that it was just a syndrome. (Don’t quote me on this next sentence) Being a disorder makes it an illness versus a syndrome making it a cluster of symptoms. At first it was only used with combat veterans, but it was called (shell shock) and most of the first studies were completed with combat veterans. They now have studies with children and adults who have experienced trauma especially emotional, physical or sexual abuse.

      I has been around as long as there has been wars, torture, abuse, divorce, accidents, deaths or any type of trauma, but never had a name. People probably ignored it, had “nervous breakdowns,” became delusional or psychotic, became addicted (alcohol, drugs, sex, gambling-yes, those are verified addictions) or committed suicide. It often can be confused with personality disorders, mood disorders (depression, anxiety) or psychosis. It is not a medical bandwagon and not an excuse. It is not readily diagnosed because there has to be a triggering event. It is a real disease that significantly disrupts a persons life. When I started to have memories of my abuse, I eventually was no longer able to work. I wanted to continue; however, my symptoms became such that I was either going to be hospitalized or stop working. I miss working, but know I cannot which is a tough thing for me to swallow.

      My symptoms include intrusive flashbacks of my abuse (auditory, olafactory, seeing, physically feeling and re-experiencing my abuse), disrupted sleep, dissociation (not completely in reality, but in a fog state), extreme hypervigilance, exaggerated startle response, panic attacks, feeling overwhelmed ALL the time and avoidance of anything associated with my abuse (crowds, loud noises, odors, yelling, loud voices, knives, tools, belts, the color pink, I could write a whole page, but I won’t). I don’t have control of when the flashbacks occur and they significantly interfere with my daily life. It is treatable usually with psychotherapy and medications.

      The following is from the National Institute for Mental Health and is very brief:

      Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
      What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?
      Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD, is an anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened. Traumatic events that may trigger PTSD include violent personal assaults, natural or human-caused disasters, accidents, or military combat.

      Signs & Symptoms
      People with PTSD have persistent frightening thoughts and memories of their ordeal and feel emotionally numb, especially with people they were once close to. They may experience sleep problems, feel detached or numb, or be easily startled.

      Treatment
      Effective treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder are available, and research is yielding new, improved therapies that can help most people with PTSD and other anxiety disorders lead productive, fulfilling lives.

      I can’t include the URLs that I had or the site names, but you can do your own Goggle search. I hope that answers some of your questions. I like that you ask. Please feel free to ask me any questions as I will be quite open to trying to answer you including my personal life…if not, I’ll let you know.

      ClinicallyCluelesss last blog post..Bloggers Launch TrainforHumanity.org ~ Humanitarian Initiative

  3. Jim & Em says:

    Great Scarlett quote BJ!

    One from the rugby days was ‘Don’t think – Drink’

    Numb the issue rather than tackle it head on – whatever works but if it’s buried or people are in 911 denial for example it’s got to come back & bite….

  4. Gareth in Thailand says:

    I think I have to agree Bridget.
    You can choose to be a victim, you can choose not to be. We all have stressful events in our lives but its what we make of them that defines our character.
    These days there are a lot of medical and legal professionals who carve out careers telling people what is wrong with them, who is to blame, how to cope with it and who will pay.
    Sure there might be something in it but the person dealing with it is the one who must make the choices and pull themselves through it. Some people are natural victims, others are natural fighters. If there wasn’t so much to be gained from the therapy bandwagon then it wouldn’t exist and we could all get on with our lives.

  5. aussiecynic says:

    CC
    nicely done… and a true and fair account of the illness..

    it is not about choosing to be a victim that choice was removed the minute these folks became one and hadtheir experience there only choice these days is how best to deal with it..

    • Yes!!! Some people are more prone to obtaining the illness depending on personality and background. Typically the onset is within 3 months of the event and lasts about 6 months with treatment. However, it can occur years later. My own personal experience is that if it has to do with child abuse that the onset is years later and can be misdiagnosed, so never treated. Even if properly diagnosed the length of treatment depend on the severity of symptoms which is in direct correlation to the severity of the abuse with the added factor of personality and resources available in childhood.

      ClinicallyCluelesss last blog post..Courageous Steps ~ New Blog

  6. Lib says:

    Yep, very nicely put CC and I’m definitely going away with a better understanding of PTSD. I’m also pleased that you can be so honest and open about your clearly traumatic experiences

    Mostly, I’m really happy that you find this blog helpful and healing.

    And you are definitely not a victim. Isn’t it funny that that word has more negative conotations now?

  7. Jim & Em says:

    Thanks for all this background CC!

    Awesome stuff.

  8. Thank you everyone for participating and asking questions. I’m glad that some have a better understanding.

    Lib, part of my healing was starting my blog and this just turned out to be a bonus. Thank you about the victim thing. It is a good thing for me and a great defense!!! But, I am not a “poor me” type, generally. Unless, like everyone else, I want to use it to my advantage!! ;-)
    ClinicallyCluelesss last blog post..Courageous Steps ~ New Blog

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