Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that’s sparked off by a horrific event — whether experienced it or witnessed. People who have PTSD experience nightmares, flashbacks, severe anxiety, and terribly uncontrollable thoughts about the event.
What are its Symptoms?
Post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms may begin within a month of a traumatic event, and sometimes symptoms may not surface until years after the event. Its symptoms bring about challenges in relationships and work.
There are four categories of these symptoms:
- intrusive memories
- negative changes in thoughts and mood
- changes in physical and emotional reactions
Let`s Briefly Discuss these Categories
- repeated memories of the traumatic event
- disturbing flashbacks
- dreams about the traumatic event
- attempts to avoid thoughts about, and discussions on the traumatic event
- avoiding places, activities or people that have some semblance with the traumatic event
Negative Changes in Thoughts and Mood
- negative thoughts about self, others, and society
- negative thoughts about the future
- challenges in socializing
- emotional numbness
- memory loss
Changes in Physical and Emotional Reactions
This is also called “arousal symptoms”.
- engaging in self-destructive acts such as excessive alcohol intake or driving too fast
- frequent loss of concentration
- being easily agitated and frightened
- constant insecurity
What Causes PTSD?
PTSD can be developed when one sees or learns about an event involving death or threatened death, severe injury or sexual violation. Other causes of PTSD are:
- inherited mental health risks, such as a family history of
the brain`s regulation of chemicals and hormones in response to stress
These are Common Exact Causes of PTSD
- natural disaster
- terrorist attack
- plane crash
- sexual violence
- threats involving a weapon
- an accident
Get Help Early!
- Speak with family and friends to get comfort.
- See a mental health professional.
To diagnose PTSD:
- A physical examination may be done to find out its cause(s).
- A psychological evaluation involving a discussion of the symptoms and cause(s) of the disorder.
PTSD treatment, primarily, involves psychotherapy. Medications can be prescribed too.
Here are some types of psychotherapy used in PTSD treatment
This is a talk therapy that enables a patient to recognize cognitive patterns that keep them stuck — negative beliefs about themselves, others and society.
This behavioral therapy helps patients to safely confront frightening situations and memories. Various approaches to exposure therapy and stress management skills are used here. Your therapist can help you develop stress management skills to help you better handle stressful situations and cope with stress in your life.
What about Medications?
- There are medications that improve PTSD. Here are some of them.
They solve symptoms of depression and anxiety. They can also be helpful in improving sleep and concentration.
These drugs relieve severe anxiety and similar problems.
Do you have PTSD? Take care of yourself:
- Get enough rest.
- Eat healthy meals.
- Avoid caffeine and nicotine because they worsen anxiety.
- Don’t abuse drugs.
- Take a walk when you’re anxious.
- Don’t self-medicate.
- Exercise regularly.
- Avoid alcohol.
- Spend time with cheerful and caring people.
- Join a support group.
You may opt for body-focused therapies such as massage, physiotherapy, osteopathy, acupuncture, reflexology, yoga, meditation, and Tai Chi. These can help to control distress, reducing the consciousness of past events, and focusing on the present.
Does Someone around you have PTSD?
Help them achieve the above, and beyond that, understand these:
- They may resist help sometimes. Give them some space, and let them know you’re available to help when they need you to do so.
- They’re quite different now, so they may get angry and irritable so easily. They may be withdrawn and depressed too.
- Offer to attend medical appointments with them. It’ll help you understand them better.
- If they don’t want to, don’t try to make them talk about the trauma that led to their condition.
- Listen to them.
- Ask for help when it seems difficult to cope with them.
- Take care of yourself too. In fact, your health should be your priority.
Debunking PTSD Myths
Because PTSD isn`t well understood, there are a number of myths about it. We will discuss three of these myths, and debunk them.
Myth 1: PTSD only affects war veterans.
True or False?
PTSD does affect war veterans, and can affect anyone else? Over 60% of Americans will be exposed to a traumatic event in their lifetime, however, only about 20% of them will develop PTSD. Victims of trauma as a result of physical and sexual assault face the highest risk of developing PTSD. Women face about double the risk more than men do.
Myth 2: Only weak people can’t move on with their lives after a traumatic event.
True or False?
Some people adjust after traumatic experiences. For some, however, it’s not as easy, and this is not because they are weak. Stress caused by trauma can affect various aspects of one’s life: emotional, mental, and physical well-being. Prolonged trauma may even disrupt and alter brain chemistry.
Myth 3: PTSD is experienced immediately after a traumatic event.
True or False?
Usually, PTSD symptoms develop within the first three months after the trauma, but may not be evident until a number of months or years have passed. There s Reay no fixed duration as to how the disorder surfaces. The durations vary by individuals and causes. Symptoms may even subside and reoccur later in life, especially with victims of childhood abuse.
Let`s take a look at some statistics and other pieces of information on PTSD.
- A number of health professionals doubted that PTSD was a true disorder.
- PTSD affects about 7.7 million American adults each year.
- Soldiers with symptoms of PTSD often faced outright rejection by their military peers and were feared by society in general.
- People with PTSD symptoms were regarded as “weak” and removed from combat zones, or sometimes discharged from military service.
- In the Gulf War (Desert Storm), about 12% of veterans have PTSD in a given year.
- About 30% of Vietnam veterans have had PTSD in their lifetime
- In Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, between 11-20% of veterans have PTSD in a given year.
Having established that PTSD is a disorder that occurs after trauma, it is important we briefly see what trauma entails.
- Trauma is a leading cause of death for people who are 45 years old and above.
- Trauma is the fourth leading cause of death overall for all ages.
- There are almost 40,000 homicide and suicide deaths each year in the United States.
- Road traffic crashes kill 1.2 million people annually around the world, that’s 3,242 people a day.
- At least 25% of American youth experience a severe traumatic event by their 16th
- A number of children suffer multiple and repeated traumas.
- After a crisis or traumatic event, a child is at risk of developing traumatic stress.
- About 25% of victims and witnesses of violence develop PTSD, depression or anxiety disorders.
- Children are usually more exposed to trauma because of their age and dependence.
PTSD has been explained in this article, with some level of details. It is important for sufferers, as well as the people around them, to have an understanding of this disorder, in order to avoid depriving such patients of care, hence worsening the condition.