According to the National Center for PTSD, on the United States Department of Veteran Affairs website, PTSD is a “stress-related reaction” that occurs in people after experiencing things such as “combat exposure, child sexual or physical abuse, terrorists attacks, sexual or physical assault, serious accidents, and natural disasters.” This reaction does not go away over time, and disrupts the lives of those whom it affects. The website tells us that some common symptoms are fear or anxiety, sadness or depression, guilt and shame, anger and irritability, and behavioral changes accompanied with “reliving the event, feeling numb, avoiding situations that remind those of the event, and feeling constantly alert or always on the lookout for danger.”
I believe that the American culture did not look upon PTSD as a serious illness until it became so prevalent with military personell returning from war. All of the horrible things our soldiers had to face/ still face can, and often do, cause a great emotional toll. There is the point, however, that many people may not believe that PTSD is a real thing because it is a mental condition that can not be measured in a biological, scientific way. Post- traumatic stress disorder can happen to anyone and I believe that it may be hard for people, especially soldiers, to seek help because they fear they may be viewed as cowards.
Biomedicine gives those suffering from PTSD a few different options for treatment. These include different types of therapies and medications, including SSRI’s (antidepressants). Culture can have both positive and negative effects on those seeking treatment. Some people view a diagnosis and treatment plan as a way to get better, and a way to get their normal lives back, while others may view a PTSD diagnosis as a sign of weakness, and not seek treatment at all. An example from the lecture of society making those suffering from a mental illness feel guilty about themselves is with postpartum depression- where mothers feel bad and have guilt when they feel they can not fulfill their motherly roles. Many view military personell as strong and tough, and many may feel badly about themselves for seeking help for this reason. Society can be very judgemental and place sterotypes on those suffering from mental illness.
I think that both going to therapies, such as counseling, and SSRI’s can be very important for healing depending on the person. Talking out problems and gaining an outsiders perspective can be very enlightening, and sometimes SSRI’s can be necessary to balance chemicals in the brain. I also think that there is a strong correlation between belief and healing. The mind is an amazing thing, and the film “Placebo: Cracking the Code” shows many examples of this connection. A few of these examples from the film are the use of “placebo surgeries,” and the use of a placebo to help with depression. In the film, two Army veterans were secretly given a “placebo surgery” to see whether knee surgery was actually helping those suffering from knee pain, or whether some sort of placebo effect was occuring. Both veterans had trouble walking and were very in-active before the operation, and now it is just the opposite. One man, who eventually found out he had indeed had a placebo surgery said in the film, “Anything is possible when you put your mind to it.” I believe this to be a very true statement. Another example was a woman in Los Angeles who was suffering from depression. She was put in a trial where some people suffering from depression were given actual medicine, while some were given a placebo. The woman was convinced that she must have been on the real medicine because she felt more “hopeful and happy,” but eventually found out that she was not. Simply taking the placebo and believing she was getting better helped her live a better every day life.
“National Center for PTSD.” United States Department of Veteran Affairs. 26 July 2012. Web. 27 July 2012. <http://www.ptsd.va.gov/>