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What Is Post Traumatic STRESS Disorder?

Do you believe that a large percentage of kids living in a first world country are suffering from the same PTSD symptoms in kids living in war zones? VICE News recent documentary on the Gang Violence in LA reveals interview evidence to support this. The video takes us through the streets of South Central Los Angeles, giving us a glimpse of the cycles of gang violence spreading in the community.

Influenced by drug dealing, gangs, and violent death, these kids have learned to adapt to what is seen as the norm in this area. Whether it is ducking when a balloon pops at a party, thinking it was a bullet; or witnessing a death right beside you; these experiences are not unusual in some districts. As a result, some young people and adults experience numbness, constant anxiety, restlessness and traumatic flashbacks. Many choose to remain silent about their experiences rather than seek out help.  Some feel a constant sense of numbness and an inability to cope with their symptoms or memories and losses. These are the classic symptoms of PTSD.

Exposure to trauma at a young age greatly affects development. In classrooms, anger and violence shown in children may be a mask for deep-seated traumatic response.  These affected youth may also show signs of great distress and restlessness, causing them to be unable to concentrate in the classroom, diminishing cognitive and emotional development.

In one screening from a high school in South Central LA, about half met or exceeded the diagnostic criterion for PTSD.  Post Traumatic Stress symptoms in children in America were found to be close to or even more prominent than children in some war-torn areas.  It is a challenge to handle the symptoms of PTSD alone. Having a vivid flashback of your friend’s last breath is traumatizing, but choosing to suppress it may make the problems even worse.  When we don’t learn how to work through our trauma history, it has the power to shape us for the rest of our lives.  This will leave us shaken and upset with reminders that are more about the past than the present.  This can result in a struggle to make the most of our lives today.

Seeking out the right help to deal with these situations can mean the difference between a life constantly on edge or one where we learn to heal from the past.  There are many who are trained to help.

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