Valdosta Scene June 2022 | Page 38

Dr . Sheba Phillips is a clinical therapist , trainer , educator and speaker , who works with people from diverse backgrounds .
“ The more knowledge you have about how PTSD impacts a person , the more it helps you understand how to care for them ...”
To diagnose someone with PTSD , Phillips said therapists consider a certain number of these symptoms over a certain period , i . e ., five to six of those symptoms over six months .
“ The problem with a lot of these symptoms is that they are also symptoms of other illnesses ,” she said .
Phillips has spent years working with kids and adults and found that conduct disorders like ADHD can come from traumatic experiences , much like PTSD .
Symptoms of those mental illnesses can include but aren ’ t limited to irritability , avoidance , anger and acting out – again – much like PTSD .
“ It ’ s so important as clinicians and people who work in the field that we ’ re doing a thorough assessment to make sure we ’ re looking at the big picture of a person ’ s life ,” Phillips said . “ If you don ’ t know or haven ’ t assessed a person for trauma , you may just assume this is something going on where behavior management may be necessary .”
If misdiagnosis occurs , that person ’ s mental illness will not be treated right , and their treatment is so much more important for the whole of their life .
Take a look back at the symptoms . As bad as these symptoms may feel for the person experiencing them , you must wonder how it ’ s affected their interpersonal relationships .
According to Phillips , these symptoms usually affect them negatively , often isolating the person from those they love . Proper treatment is typically an assessment – that helps them personally and interpersonally .
Patients with PTSD often get their lives back , but it ’ s still a two-way street when interpersonal relationships come to play .
Phillips said knowledge is vital for loved ones – family , friends or otherwise – being there for someone with PTSD .
“( They need to ) understand this is a health issue and these things happening are not by choice ,” she said . “ Also , try to encourage their loved one to seek professional care .”
She said the main thing people need to understand about someone with PTSD is that the person is not being difficult when they ask you to do something like go to the grocery store for them .
The number of people or the amount of noise could trigger them .
“ The more knowledge you have about how PTSD impacts a person , the more it helps you understand how to care for them , show up and be present for that person ,” Phillips said .
She said it is the same thing you ’ d do for someone with cancer .
Side effects from the medicine in chemotherapy make them feel nauseous and lose their appetite . More often than not , the smell of fried food will make them nauseous that you wouldn ’ t cook it in their home .
Knowledge is power , but especially in this case , knowledge is love . Phillips said this is where the community could be more present .
PTSD awareness on a large scale can save lives because the more community awareness there is , the more you ’ re taking into account those around you – the more the community can mitigate the damage PTSD can cause .
PTSD can cause other illnesses if not treated : anxiety , depression , inability to maintain relationships and severe addiction / substance abuse issues .
“ PTSD is curable ,” Phillips said . “ It ’ s a lifetime process of a person getting those coping skills and tools , but if they have those , they ’ re better equipped and can manage it .”
The purpose of awareness is to help those with PTSD live a life of comfort and peace , much like everyone else wants to .
38 Valdosta Scene | June 2022