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Acknowledging and Treating PTSD

Acknowledging and Treating PTSD

It’s been 108 years since the Cubs won a World Series, but this might be the year to end that championship drought. Sportswriters and psychologists, however, are warning that the stress of waiting to see how the season plays out—winning or losing—can trigger anxiety, anger, sadness and depression in die-hard fans. As one fan confessed last year when the Cubs hopes were dashed in the National League Championship Series, “I have PTSD—Playoff Team Season Disappointment!” 

That may seem funny, but the number of folks who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the general public is 13 times the number who’ve developed it from military service (PTSD affects 20 percent of veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars). Thirty to 80 percent of survivors of sexual assault develop PTSD, as do up to 39 percent of non-sexual assault victims, 30 to 40 percent of those who go through a disaster and 25 to 33 percent of car crash victims. Symptoms include intrusive thoughts, flashbacks, trouble sleeping, depression, anger, anxiety, sadness, numbness and fear. 

Fortunately, there are effective treatments. The National Center for PTSD, part of the VA, says that besides cognitive behavioral therapy, cognitive processing therapy, prolonged exposure therapy and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) help greatly. About 50 percent of most patients see significant improvement within a year and some therapies, such as EMDR, provide symptom remission for 75 percent of patients. When psychological therapy is combined with medications such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), there may be even more relief from symptoms.

Medically reviewed in December 2018.

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