What is PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder)?
Terrifying situations may leave a lasting impact, regardless of whether you experience it or witness it. You may have constant flashbacks, severe anxiety, or even nightmares. Sometimes, you may experience uncontrollable thoughts about the event. All these amounts to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Typically, PTSD is a mental health condition that occurs when you are exposed to a traumatizing situation that may make it difficult for you to adjust as well as cope with life. However, if you practice proper self-care, the condition improves with time.
But, if the conditions gets worse, i.e., lasting for over a month or even a year or it interferes with your daily functioning, you need to get effective PTSD treatment. The treatment aims at reducing the symptoms and improving function.
Feeling afraid after a traumatic experience is common. Such fear usually triggers numerous split-second changes within your body to help defend or avoid danger. This fight or flight response is a reaction to protect yourself from harm.
Most people naturally recover from the initial symptoms, while a few may have persistent episodes that may be diagnosed as PTSD.
The common symptoms include:
The symptoms of this condition are seen in several forms including
- Distressing memories and dreams of a traumatic experience that are recurrent.
- Nightmare an upsetting dreams
- A physical reaction to any event that reminds you of the situation
- Severe emotional stress
Avoidance of reminders
This is a state where you try to avoid conditions that remind you of the traumatic experience: it is shown in the following ways:
- Avoid talking about the event
- Avoid thinking about the event
- Avoiding places where the events occurred
Negative thinking and mood changes
This is an ongoing thing that may include the following:
- Having distorted belief about yourself, others or the world
- A feeling of hopelessness
- Memory lapses, which may involve not remembering essential events of the traumatic experience
- A feeling of detachment from family members and friends
- Losing trust in people
- Losing interest in activities you previously liked
- Emotional numbness
These are changes in the physical and emotional reactions. Sometimes this is called arousal symptoms. It shows itself in the form of:
- High irritability
- Anger outbursts
- Overwhelming guilt
- Reckless or self-destructive behaviors, e.g., taking too much alcohol
- Trouble concentrating
Keep in mind that the intensity of symptoms may vary from one arson to the other. While some people may have all the four categories of the symptoms, others may only experience a few.
Consult a doctor when:
- The disturbing thoughts/feelings about the traumatic even occur for more than a month and are severe
- When you have trouble getting your life on track under control
- If you have suicidal thoughts
PTSD develops under the following conditions Go through, see or learn about traumatic events that may involve an actual or threatened death/serious injury or sexual violation. However, the real cause of PTSD is not known. But there is a notion that a mix of the following factors causes it:
- Stressful experience you’ve gone through in life
- Inherited mental risks
- Inherited features
- How your body regulates chemicals and hormones released in response to stress
PTSD Risk factors
People of all ages are affected, but the following events pose a risk.
- Intense trauma
- Childhood abuse
- Mental problems, e.g., anxiety or depression
- Problems with substance abuse
- Lack of a good support system
PTSD Treatment and therapies
Treatments involve the use of medications and psychotherapy. For some people, both remedies may be used, while others may only require one. Keep in mind that PTSD affects people differently, and treatment is specific.
- Medications: the most common medication is antidepressants. The drugs control symptoms like anger, worry, and sadness as well as a feeling of numbness inside. Other medications may help to manage specific PTSD symptoms, like sleep problems and nightmares.
- Psychotherapy: this involves talking with a mental health expert to treat the mental condition. The therapy can be one on one or in a group. The treatment session lasts for about 6 to 12 weeks, but in some instances, it may last longer. The most effective therapies target emphasize few components like symptoms, teaching skills to help identify the triggers of symptoms, and expertise to manage the symptoms.
This is a form of psychotherapy that involves;
- Exposure therapy: helps people to face and control their fear. The method aims at safely exposing them to the trauma they experienced through, e.g., imagining
- Cognitive restructuring: helps you to make sense of bad memories by reducing worry, judgementalness and any other negative thinking patterns