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The Effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

It's been reported that 5.3% of all the regular force members in the Canadian Armed Services have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).   John Shippam is a combat veteran of the British Army and now a registered counsellor, sat down with 100 Huntley Street reporter Magdalene John to talk about the effects of PTSD and how you can help yourself or a loved one dealing with the effects of war.

What is PTSD?

PTSD is a form of anxiety disorder and anxiety basically comes from fear. As Dr. Caroline Leaf states, humans have two thoughts in our minds: "It's going to be okay" or "It's not going to be okay".

With PTSD, it leans over toward "It's not going to be okay" which keeps the person in a constant sense of anxiety, seeing the negatives in life and reacting to it.

For John himself, being a part of the British Army gave him many "opportunities" to be in harm's way. It became almost "normal" to put himself in harm's way, except in this case, "normal" is not the healthy way.

As he stepped back into civilian life, all the hurts were repressed and were not dealt with appropriately.

Some Symptoms of PTSD

One of the symptoms of PTSD that was experienced by John was night sweats. For years, he would be sleeping with towels on the bed because he was sweating so much at night. This was because he was reliving all kinds of trauma in his head, going through survivor guilt and wondering about the purpose of life.

On top of all that, there was an incredible amount of insecurity and uncertainty.

Spectrum of PTSD

Taking a look at PTSD on a spectrum, the incident that happened to Shilo Harris would stand on one extreme end while a person who had been in a car accident might be on the other end.

Regardless on where they are on the spectrum, PTSD usually holds people back in life and keeps them in a constant negative thought cycle.

(Click here for the interview with Shilo Harrris, an American soldier who had survived in an IED attack)

Walking through PTSD

As a counsellor, John forms an empathetic relationship with patients who have PTSD. They have to know that you understand what they are going through and that they are being heard. Then he will share with them how he had recovered from PTSD to give them the hope that it can be done.

It is when hope is given that they can start moving forward in the path of recovery and start believing that they can get through this. 

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