Understanding PTSD - KULR8.com | News, Weather & Sports in Billings, Montana

Understanding PTSD

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Thirteen people, including the gunman, are dead after the shooting spree at the Naval Yard in Washington, DC Monday. The shooter, Aaron Alexis, was suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD.

"Post traumatic stress disorder, you have more intrusive thoughts. You're just trying to live your life and there's flashbacks. You haven't wanted to think about the traumatic event but the traumatic event sort of grabs you and pulls you back into it," says Nancy Thorson, Licensed Clinical Social Worker at Billings Counseling Connection.

Thirty-four year old Aaron Alexis, a former Navy Reservist working as a civilian contractor, reportedly suffered from PTSD and mentioned he was hearing voices, in the weeks before the rampage.

"They will start avoiding things. They might start isolating themselves to keep away from the traumatic triggers," says Thorson. "It's not typical that somebody with PTSD or any other mental illness would act out in a violent way."

Mental health experts say PTSD can develop after a person faces a traumatic event. But talking through your experience is one step to recovery.

"I do talk about it because it helps to discuss it with people because it just gets it off your shoulders. It's not just bottled up, you don't have to think about it all the time," says Alan King, a participant in the 2013 Boston Marathon. "It does get better over time, but I think it does help to talk about it and express your feelings and what you experienced."

"Simply letting people know that there is hope and there is help available and that you're willing to help them take the steps they need to get that, can make people feel less isolated and alone in the traumatic experience," says Thorson.