A traumatic event can range in intensity from war experiences to significant losses in life. Everyday traumas could include the loss of one's spouse, marriage, freedom, health, financial security, occupation, and identity. Holmes' Significant Life Events Scale assigns mean values to some 43 life events, with scores ranging from 100 (Death of spouse) to 11 (minor violations of the law.) Accumulating a high total score from a series of stressful events within a short time, can feel as traumatic as experiencing one major stressor over a longer period. The negative effects of trauma may include the avoidance of memory triggers, amnesia, intrusive thoughts, distressing dreams, flashbacks, irritability, and a reduced ability to concentrate, experience pleasure, feel tender emotions, and imagine a positive future. These effects can become chronic after exposure to frequent, intense traumatic events, resulting in a medical condition clinicians call Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Once associated mainly with veterans of the Vietnam War, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is now being related to many trauma inducing experiences such as rape, abuse, disasters, accidents, and torture. Studies have shown that about 30% of veterans, 45% of battered women, 50% of sexually abused children, and 35% of adult rape victims are likely to suffer from PTSD at some point in their lifetime. Most studies and reviews focus on military veterans, but there is increasing interest in other groups who are susceptible – health workers, police, and fire-fighters. Researchers in the UK found a prevalence rate of 13% for PTSD symptoms amongst suburban police officers. Rates in urban police officers and officers in armed situations may be higher. Prevalence rates for PTSD in the community are probably about 2–3%. Rates of PTSD in police forces are therefore likely to be four to six times higher than in the general public. Rates of PTSD symptoms in professional fire-fighters may be as high as 18%. For a detailed description of PTSD, see Veterans Affairs Canada brochure, "Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and War Related Stress"
PTSD & GENDER
Men have 30% greater risk of being involved in a traumatic event than women, since they are more prone to witnessing a death/injury and experiencing accidents, nonsexual assault, combat, disaster, fire, serious illness, and injury. Sexual abuse is more common among women than men and is more likely to lead to PTSD than other type of trauma. Consequently, women have twice the reported risk of PTSD as men. The more severe women's PTSD, the more likely they are to experience physical symptoms, such as shortness of breath, headaches, joint pain, and abdominal pain. Men may under-report psychiatric symptoms and develop other responses, such as alcohol/drug abuse, conduct disorders, and violence.
Research has shown that exposure to combat results in considerable risk of mental health problems, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), major depression, substance abuse, impairment in social functioning, an inability to work, and the increased use of health care services. The percentage of soldiers with mental health issues prior to the war in Iraq was 9.3 percent, compared with about 16 percent afterwards. The greater the number of firefights encountered, the greater the incidence of PTSD. Those unexposed to firefights had a PTSD incidence rate of 4.5 percent, close to that in the general population. That rate more than doubled to 9.3 percent, if a soldier experienced significant firefighting once or twice. Three to five firefights yielded an incidence of PTSD of 13 percent, and greater than five exposures brought the incidence rate to nearly 20 percent.
AVOIDANCE OF PTSD TREATMENT
These percentages are likely to be somewhat understated, not only because the prevalence of PTSD may increase during the two years after exposure to trauma, but also because of soldiers' fears of the repercussions of admitting they are having difficulty.
Even among soldiers with no mental health symptoms, general distrust and perceived barriers to seeking mental health services were obvious. Eighteen percent of these study participants reported they would be too embarrassed to seek mental health services. Twenty four percent felt admitting a problem could hurt their careers, and 31 percent felt they would be seen as weak.
SELF HELP VIDEOS
Even more striking are the research findings related to the soldiers with active mental health issues. Thirty eight percent answered that they lack trust in mental health professionals, 41 percent said they would be embarrassed to seek help, 50 percent felt seeking help would damage their careers, and 65 percent feared being labeled as weak. Nearly 30 percent of male civilians with a mental health disorder seek treatment, but fewer than 20 percent of service men seek treatment. This avoidance of trauma therapy is one of the major reasons we created a series of self-help video programs that people can download from the internet and view in the privacy of their own homes.
Click the arrow > to see Video 0-"Introduction to Emotional Tuning & Tension Release"
If you have watched the videos, you might be interested in TRAUMA THERAPY, or