PTSD – Could You Be Affected, as a Caregiver?
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is an anxiety disorder marked by some of the most debilitating symptoms such as flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety, mood swings and hyper vigilance to name but a few – that usually occurs after someone experiences a sudden and traumatic event.
Most of us associate this disorder with former military personel who have experienced and witnessed the horrors of war – the likes of which most of us could not imagine – or first responders and survivors of disasters or violent attack.
But what about caregiver PTSD? Those of us who have cared for a loved one who presents with unpredictable and sometimes frightening symptoms, can also be affected by this very personal, ongoing trauma.
Seeing a loved one going through a psychotic episode, a suicide attempt, a violent outburst, will trigger the “fight or flight” response in our bodies to the trauma we are witnessing. If this is produced on a regular basis, it could eventually lead to PTSD.
Our attendees at Sibling Link have spoken candidly about the effect that caring and worrying about someone with an unpredictable illness has on their own mental health:
“I wasn’t aware that the unpredictability of my brother’s schizophrenia and subsequent psychotic episodes induced such a strong physical response in me. I was always on edge and going from one extreme emotion to another….this carried on for years.. I understand why stress triggers the same “fight or flight’ anxiety – it’s carried from my brother’s episodes.”
Of course grief-induced PTSD has been widely talked about and is a very real issue. Those who have bereaved by a sudden death, a violent death and witnessed the death of a loved one can often present with symptoms of PTSD later in life.
One of Sibling Link’s Walk and Talk, Bereaved By Suicide attendees says that her father’s suicide
“left me so shocked and dazed that I really felt isolated for so long – it was not a ‘normal’ grief – it took me years before I could talk about how I felt and this permeated throughout my life until I started to talk to those in the same situation”.
For more information and guidance on methods of treatment and therapies, please seek your GP’s recommendation. Some of the following links may also help:
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