PTSD

Shout out to The Golden Girls: Shows and movies that “get” chronic illness

‘Tis the season for binge-watching — but the media often flops in its portrayal of people with health conditions. So we’ve gathered patient perspectives on Hollywood depictions of illness and who’s gotten it right (thanks, Bea Arthur). When doctors doubted Dorothy A writer for The Mighty who has multiple health condition recently praised The Golden Girls for it’s portrayal of main character Dorothy navigating the healthcare system with a chronic condition. Over the course of a two-part episode (called “Sick and Tired”), Dorothy (played by Bea Arthur) starts feeling constant exhaustion and hops around to different doctors who don’t believe she has a real ailment. “Maybe I am crazy — nobody believes me,” Dorothy laments to Rose (Betty White) after multiple appointments. “Dorothy, you are not crazy, honey, you’re sick,” Rose replies. (Thank you for being a friend, Rose.) Ultimately, Dorothy is relieved when a specialist finally diagnoses her with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). The show was ahead of it’s time in building credibility around CFS, which is just now gaining recognition as a serious longterm condition that shares many characteristics with some autoimmune conditions. Golden Girls creator Susan Harris based the episodes on her own experiences with CFS and doctors who didn’t understand the condition in the 1980s. Other shows …

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PTSD Nightmares: Why they’re happening and what you can do

More than 1,600 members of the PTSD community on have reported experiencing severe nightmares, and there are dozens of forum threads tagged with topic. So, we took a deeper dive into PTSD nightmares and some of the research-backed approaches you can try to help manage them. How common are nightmares after trauma? The quick answer: Very common. According to one study, 71% to 96% of people with PTSD experience nightmares. And the number is even higher for those also living with another mental health condition like panic disorder. At least 50% of people with PTSD suffer from nightmares that incorporate elements or contain exact replications of a traumatic event (these are called replicative nightmares). An additional 20-25% experience post-traumatic nightmares that don’t exactly replay the trauma memory, but are symbolically related to the traumatic event. Why do PTSD nightmares happen? Scientists have been studying dreams for years, but they still don’t fully understand how or why we dream. Matthew Walker, a psychology researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, has one theory. Walker found that during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, the chemistry of the brain actually changes. Levels of norepinephrine — a kind of adrenaline — drop out completely. REM sleep is the only time of day when this happens. …

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Psychotherapy and PTSD symptoms: Your questions answered

Recently, a number of PatientsLikeMe members shared some of the questions they had about psychotherapy and  remission from PTSD symptoms, so we asked Meaghan Zisk, R.N. M.P.H., a nurse and Health Data and Patient Safety Clinical Specialist, to investigate. She took a deep dive into variations of PTSD, psychotherapy types, how they work and resources to help you choose which therapy type is right for you. She also touched on the possibility of remission from PTSD symptoms. Check out what she found… PTSD vs C-PTSD Complex PTSD (C-PTSD) is a relatively new diagnostic term intended to describe the symptoms associated with prolonged, repeated trauma. Examples of such trauma include long-term child abuse, long-term domestic violence, concentration camps, prisoner of war camps, among others. Individuals with C-PTSD generally have all of the symptoms associated with PTSD. However, individuals with C-PTSD also experience additional symptoms such as difficulty with emotion regulation, feeling worthless or guilty, and interpersonal problems that are not seen as frequently in PTSD. Due to the combination of interpersonal and emotional symptoms with other PTSD symptoms, C-PTSD can be harder to treat and may take longer to recover from than PTSD. The International Society of Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS) has published treatment …

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From tomatoes to turmeric: Can foods fight inflammation?

Inflammation is a hot topic. What’s it all about? And what’s the scoop on certain diets, foods and supplements, such as turmeric, when it comes to fighting inflammation? What is inflammation? Not all inflammation is “bad.” Acute inflammation is part of the body’s natural way of defending itself from foreign substances like viruses, bacteria, cuts and splinters. It may cause redness, swelling, heat and/or pain. The upside is, these symptoms are a sign that the body is responding after an injury or infection by triggering white blood cells and disease-fighting chemicals. But some “other” kinds of inflammation — like chronic inflammation (which may include constant low-grade or systemic inflammation) and inflammation from autoimmune disorders (where the body attacks its own healthy cells as if they’re foreign) — doesn’t always show visible or obvious symptoms and can play a more long-term and complex role, according to Mayo Clinic. Which diseases or conditions does it affect? Mounting research shows that inflammation is a common underlying factor (and possibly a cause) in many — perhaps even all — diseases. You’ve probably heard about the role of inflammation in arthritis or heart health. But researchers and doctors have also studied inflammation’s link to a wide range of other diseases and conditions, including cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s …

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5 tips for practicing self-care when your chronic illness is trying to take over

As a woman with bipolar disorder I and PTSD, I can pretty safely say that no two days are the same. There are days when the world is sunshine and roses; life is grand! Then there are days when the inside of my brain is trying to run the show without me, and it’s leaving a trail of destruction in its wake. There are floundering relationships, self-harm incidents, and half-hatched big plans laying strewn about, and I stand in the middle of it all, trying very hard not to let the illness win. When I can really stand back and take stock of things, I find that self-care is paramount to my feeling better, or simply not getting worse. The following are some of my “go-to” self-care strategies. 1. Coloring. I know, I know. You’re already rolling your eyes at the screen, wondering what the heck I’m even talking about. But coloring has turned out to be a Zen activity in my life. My manias are not euphoric, but angry and aggressive, and I have found the act of coloring to bring me down in the moment. It’s also extremely helpful with my anxiety and PTSD symptoms. We’re lucky that …

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Highlighting the many faces of PTSD

  PTSD doesn’t have just one face, it has millions.  During any given year, there are about eight million adults who have PTSD, which is why for PTSD Awareness Day this year, we’re sharing just some of those many faces and the stories behind them. From grandmothers to soldiers, both women and men, the PatientsLikeMe PTSD community is made up of people from all backgrounds – connecting through their shared experiences. Read their stories and log in to connect with others in the forum.   Survivinglife: “I felt like a million pounds had been lifted from my shoulders. The course of my life finally made sense. My lack of being able to trust people, my lack of friendships, the ‘moodiness,’ that are really reactions to triggers that I know, and some that I am continuing to figure out. Why I always felt different, like I didn’t fit in, why I still feel that way today.” Read More     DSwartz: “Always know that you are NOT ALONE… PTSD comes from trying to be too strong for too long or on your own, with little or no support. Talking about your fears and insecurities with someone who truly listens and does …

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“I finally feel like there is hope for me to have a life that has purpose.” – Member Robin shares her story living with complex PTSD

Robin (survivinglife) is a PatientsLikeMe member living with complex PTSD. Recently, she shared her story with us, from her childhood to now, delving into the hardships she’s faced and how she continues to find the courage to forge through. Content within this story may be triggering for some readers. Here’s her story… I am a 41 yo female. I’ve never been married. I’ve never dated or had any type of long term relationships – even long term friendships. My mood swings and constant need to be reassured that I am cared about and wanted is too much for people to put up with for more than a couple of years at best, a few months at worst. My faith is very important to me – it is one of the reasons I have been able to be as successful as I have been in my life. I struggle every day with my faith – with believing that I was not an accident and that I have purpose to my life. I live on 6 acres which I enjoy watching the wildlife and listening to the birds. I have 2 dogs – a pit mix and a poodle mix. They are …

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“Always know that you are not alone.” Member Debbie shares about life with PTSD

As a “happily married mom of three and grandmother to four,” Debbie works each day to remain active and positive, filling her time with the things she loves, like crocheting, baking and helping others to see there is a light at the end of the tunnel.   “I try very hard each day to stay as active as possible, both physically and emotionally, always trying to manage my bipolar disorder, PTSD, OCD and anxiety disorder. It’s a lifestyle for me, and it works.”   Though she now manages her condition confidently and helps others learn how to do the same, that wasn’t always the case for Debbie. “I am told my PTSD came about from a rough childhood. I grew up in a severely dysfunctional, alcoholic family,” she shared. “I continued the fiasco by marrying an abusive alcoholic. I have also been victim to multiple rapes, molestation and physical abuse, all from people I should have been able to trust.” Eventually, Debbie was referred by her longtime therapist to a rehabilitation center that was looking for peers (peers are past mental health consumers who now help other mental health consumers based on a shared personal experience). “I spoke with the …

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Lady Gaga reveals her struggle with PTSD

Musician Lady Gaga recently revealed in an open letter that she is living with PTSD. In the letter, posted to the Born This Way Foundation website, she discussed her struggle with the condition since being sexually assaulted as a teenager: “I have wrestled for some time about when, how and if I should reveal my diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). After five years of searching for the answers to my chronic pain and the change I have felt in my brain, I am finally well enough to tell you.” In the letter, Gaga touched on living with and managing the symptoms of the condition, and that she experiences something called dissociation, which can present itself in a range of experiences – she opened up about how it impacted her: “…my mind doesn’t want to relive the pain so ‘I look off and I stare’ in a glazed over state… My body is in one place and my mind in another. It’s like the panic accelerator in my mind gets stuck and I am paralyzed with fear,” she wrote. “When this happens I can’t talk. When this happens repeatedly, it makes me have a common PTSD reaction which is …

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Meet Christopher – “PTSD is not just soldiers whining and complaining about struggles in life”

Say hello to Christopher (ChrisBC), a father, musician and Purple Heart recipient living with PTSD and bipolar disorder. We recently caught up with him to hear about how PTSD affected his marriage and how his diagnosis pushed him get the help he needed and connect with his feelings. Keep reading to learn how he copes with stigma and the one thing he wishes people understood about PTSD. Can you tell us a little about yourself? What are you passionate about?   I was born in Seattle WA, and my family moved to Alaska where I grew up. I joined the Army when I was 19 years old and went to my first assignment at Fort Polk, Louisiana. I spent the next 22 years in the Army. During my time in the Army, I was stationed in seven different locations including Germany. I had five different deployments of varying lengths with three combat, and two peacekeeping. I received a Purple Heart as well as many others in my platoon during my Iraq tour for being wounded under enemy fire. I retired in 2014 and have one daughter who is 11 years old. I am passionate about music and I play the electric bass guitar …

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