Post Dramatic Stress Disorder

748Today I counseled an inmate who was upset because he had been diagnosed with what he called Post Dramatic Stress Disorder (PDSD). What he meant and I quickly corrected him, was Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Initially my colleagues and I had a good laugh at the fact that he mistakenly called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Post Dramatic Stress Disorder, but then I thought about it. Can exposure to too much drama create a milder form of stress that can have a negative effect on an individual’s life?

Every day most of us are exposed to some type of drama, either in our personal lives or through the media where we are bombarded with images of war, devastation and danger just from watching the  news. We are faced with even more murder, betrayals and violence from the television shows, books and magazine articles we consume.

Most of us don’t give a second thought to these images that slip into our brains, but for some of us, prolonged exposure to drama can create anxiety, difficulty sleeping, a sense of helplessness and agitation.

Think about it. How many times have you watched or read something that was provocative, suspenseful or violent and then found yourself dreaming about it that night, perhaps even having a nightmare that the dramatic even was happening to you?  Many of us will push this aside as we wake up and get back to our realities, but for a few, they will remain hyper vigilant and uneasy for days.

My oldest sister had to stop watching one of her favorite movies because it would cause her to go back to work the next day angry. Why? The dramatic events in the movie didn’t happen to her, yet they affected her on multiple levels triggering an agitated response.

What’s the solution? Certainly I am not advocating boycotting television or books filled with drama, but instead to take a break from it every now and then. Go for a walk, take up yoga, spend time with someone you love, try to avoid real life drama, do anything relaxing that can help bring you centered. Also, try to pay attention to how dramatic events affect you, which ones and how. Most of us are much more affected by the dramatic events in our real lives than in the media, but maybe watching a suspenseful movie before bed isn’t the best idea if they generally give you nightmares and poor sleep quality.

What started off this morning as a good laugh (with the seriousness we deal with every day we are always looking for a good laugh), a real topic was brought up. Post Dramatic Stress Disorder may not be a real disorder, but the effects of being dramatized are. The less drama (real or fictional) we have in our lives, the healthier we will be both mentally and physically.