By Rev. Paul N. Papas II
31 July 2012
FEAR, ANXIETY and COURAGE
You can have all three. Crowded places, large gatherings and movie theaters have a growing commonality for many.
The shooting tragedy in Aurora, Colorado brought the worst and best of us, once again. We as exceptional Americans have unique qualities that help us in many ways. When confronted with an obstacle someone usually finds away to go overcome it or go over, around, or through it without waiting for a government solution.
There were several named heroes in the Aurora shootings who gave their lives protecting loved ones or friends, just as their were in the field outside of Shanksville, Pennsylvania on 9/11 who brought down plane so it would not hit the Capitol building.
Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is acting in spite of fear.
There are many named and unnamed heroes who serve and have served in the US Military; they gave the government a blank check to include their lives.
There is a commonality with survivors, victims, heroes, first responders, and witnesses of tragic events or crimes. They all experience emotion. It is possible that each could be diagnosed and treated for the medical condition of a mental illness called PTSD.
PTSD can cause many symptoms. These symptoms can be grouped into three categories:
1. Re-experiencing symptoms:
- Flashbacks—reliving the trauma over and over, including physical symptoms like a racing heart or sweating
- Bad dreams
- Frightening thoughts.
Re-experiencing symptoms may cause problems in a person’s everyday routine. They can start from the person’s own thoughts and feelings. Words, objects, or situations that are reminders of the event can also trigger re-experiencing.
2. Avoidance symptoms:
- Staying away from places, events, or objects that are reminders of the experience
- Feeling emotionally numb
- Feeling strong guilt, depression, or worry
- Losing interest in activities that were enjoyable in the past
- Having trouble remembering the dangerous event.
Things that remind a person of the traumatic event can trigger avoidance symptoms. These symptoms may cause a person to change his or her personal routine. For example, after a bad car accident, a person who usually drives may avoid driving or riding in a car.
3. Hyperarousal symptoms:
- Being easily startled
- Feeling tense or “on edge”
- Having difficulty sleeping, and/or having angry outbursts.
Hyperarousal symptoms are usually constant, instead of being triggered by things that remind one of the traumatic events. They can make the person feel stressed and angry. These symptoms may make it hard to do daily tasks, such as sleeping, eating, or concentrating.
It’s natural to have some of these symptoms after a dangerous event. Sometimes people have very serious symptoms that go away after a few weeks. This is called acute stress disorder, or ASD. When the symptoms last more than a few weeks and become an ongoing problem, they might be PTSD. Some people with PTSD don’t show any symptoms for weeks or months.
It is true most people would not want to think of PTSD as medical condition called a mental illness because of the Stigma attached the words mental illness.
PTSD and other the medical conditions of a mental illness are common and treatable. If you or someone you know experience any of the symptoms please call your Doctor.
When you are confronted with an obstacle you can or someone can help you find away to go overcome it or go over, around, or through it.
Fear is okay and often healthy. Having some anxiety can be okay. Fear and anxiety can be debilitating if left unchecked. Have the courage to overcome.