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All Stressed Up And No Place to Go

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 By Debbie Aasen/Chris Thomas, Contact
March 20, 2007

Stress is part of the job for many North Dakotans, but for more than five million Americans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), it can be hard to function in daily life. An expert speaking today in Bismarck says when we witness or experience trauma, it can leave us feeling hopeless and helpless. Psychiatry professor Spero Manson of the University of Colorado says American Indians and Alaskan Natives are more likely to experience trauma than other segments of the population. He says there are ways to cope if people seek help.

"Many of the people I've worked with, veterans and non-veterans, talk about feeling like they're going crazy. And it's important for family and friends to realize that these victims are not going crazy. That these are natural reactions to understandable stress, although admittedly very scary ones."

Manson notes that friends and family are more likely to recognize the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress than the victim. Signs of a problem may include a heightened startle reflex, irritability and isolation. Unfortunately, many think they can get through the problem on their own, and some turn to alcohol, which creates a whole new set of problems.

But Manson believes there is hope for people with PTSD. Talk therapy, group therapy and some medications are highly effective ways to treat post traumatic stress.

"That's one of the things that particularly males suffer from most is the sense that there's no problem that I can't, that I've encountered that I can't defeat. I can do this without anybody's help. The truth is is that we all need help if we're the victims of post traumatic stress."

Dr. Manson will be at United Tribes' Jack Barden Center Wednesday afternoon from 3:00 to 5:00. His presentation is open to the public.

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