June 27th is PTSD Awareness Day in Canada. Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is a mental health illness that occurs after someone experiences or witnesses an extremely traumatic event. The symptoms of PTSD can be severe and long-lasting and may include nightmares, reliving experiences in the mind, or anxiety and depression.
Approximately 45 percent of immigrants and refugees who have come to Canada have arrived from countries experiencing social unrest or war. These experiences may be carried with them as they acclimate to Canadian society. Although Canada presents a safer environment for many of those who choose to come here, PTSD can nevertheless prevail in adding further challenges to being in Canada.
When someone experiences something extremely traumatic — like being threatened with physical harm or witnessing violence against another person — it is common to feel scared or worried about what might happen next. These feelings are normal reactions to stressful situations; however, if these feelings last longer than expected (and significantly interfere with your life), then it may be PTSD.
PTSD is a mental health condition that can develop after a person has experienced or witnessed any event that results in psychological trauma. It was originally called “shell shock” during World War I, and it was officially recognized as a disorder in the Western world in 1980.
While PTSD often occurs after one specific traumatic incident, such as military combat or natural disasters, it can also be caused by repeated or prolonged exposure to such events. For example, people who have been exposed repeatedly to domestic violence may experience PTSD symptoms if they are unable to leave the situation.
PTSD can vary greatly in severity and intensity, but it always takes some time to develop. Some people may experience mild symptoms that last for a few days or weeks after an event, while others experience severe symptoms that affect their daily lives for years. The symptoms can also vary from person to person depending on the type of trauma they experienced, their coping strategies for dealing with it and other factors like gender, age, and cultural background.
Nightmares and flashbacks are the most common symptoms of PTSD. Both nightmares and flashbacks can be very frightening and make it hard for people who have them to sleep well at night or concentrate during the day.
It is common for people who have suffered trauma to feel detached from themselves. Some of the most common symptoms include:
Symptoms of PTSD are not only psychological. PTSD may have physical ramifications as well, including:
Triggers are different for everyone. Triggers can be reminders of a traumatic event, such as seeing someone who looks like someone from one’s past or experiencing a certain smell or sound. Immigrants and refugees may have specific kinds of triggers due to their experience with war or violence in their home countries and being separated from loved ones when they came here as refugees.
Although immigrants and refugees may have come to Canada for a better life, it is important to remember that established norms and attitudes here may have a negative impact on their mental health as well. For instance, further triggers of PTSD can include being targeted because they’re not the race of the majority here in Canada (as many immigrants are) or experiencing racism by other Canadians. In fact, a 2021 study found that 7.5 percent of minority immigrants experience PTSD. Comparatively, only 3.6 percent of white immigrants experience PTSD.
There are a few ways to address PTSD if you or a loved one is suffering:
At Garson Immigration Law, we are exclusively dedicated to the practice of immigration law. We understand that waiting for your immigration application to be processed can be stressful. Our immigration lawyers can help successfully guide you through the immigration process and find solutions for your individual immigration needs.
We work to find effective solutions for our clients in all kinds of immigration matters, including permanent residence, inadmissibility, and US immigration. If you have any questions about an immigration application, do not hesitate to reach out to us online or by calling us at 416-321-2860.
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