Here is a simple, non-clinical answer:
When something traumatic happens in our lives, we react strongly in our body, mind and spirit. This is normal. The reaction is strong because it is a normal reaction to an abnormal event.
We may experience nausea, sleeplessness, headaches, nightmares, jumpiness, etc. Typically, that “wound-up” state is something like a bouncing ball – it continually lessens until, like the ball, we are again at rest. If it doesn’t decrease in a few weeks, we may need to seek professional help. If it continues for months, we are suffering from ongoing post-traumatic stress. There may be brain injury (PTSI), either as a result of the original trauma or by the ongoing chemicals flooding the brain. If the situation continues and/or disturbs daily life, we are likely suffering from PTSD. Don’t suffer in silence. Seek professional help.
Because post-traumatic stress involves body, mind and spirit, we recommend that anyone suffering with PTS seek out qualified individuals in all three areas: a good physician, a good psychologist/psychiatrist, and a good chaplain. If one of the three individuals you seek out denies the need to involve the other two fields, that’s a red flag.
Mayo Clinic defines PTSD this way:
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that's triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event.
Most people who go through traumatic events may have temporary difficulty adjusting and coping, but with time and good self-care, they usually get better. If the symptoms get worse, last for months or even years, and interfere with your day-to-day functioning, you may have PTSD.
Getting effective treatment after PTSD symptoms develop can be critical to reduce symptoms and improve function.
Go here to read the above quote and much more: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/post-traumatic-stress-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20355967
We are pleased to see that Mayo Clinic mentioned self-care. This is an important part of recovery. In fact, as Christian chaplains, we recommend five specific actions for anyone suffering with PTS:
- Get outside, into the sunlight. Work at an exercise which involves left-right movement – walking, swimming, bicycling, cross-country skiing, etc.
- Study God’s Word. Let your God feed you his Word in the pastures of his enduring presence, his forgiving love, and his tender assurance that he is with you.
- This is your opportunity to tell it all to God, knowing he always listens.
- Gather a trusted group of friends who understand and will support you in this difficult journey. Stay in close contact and give them permission to contact you if you don’t.
- Listen to good, uplifting Christian music. Avoid what leads to a pity-party.
Finally, we offer a Frontline Worker’s Support Group, both in person and via Zoom.
Contact Institutional Ministries for more information.