Post-traumatic stress disorder or generally known as PTSD is a mental health disorder. It is mainly triggered by experiencing a traumatic event that leads to severe anxiety, flashbacks of that event, and even nightmares.
Anyone who goes through a terrible event has some difficulty adjusting, but if these symptoms persist for a longer period of time and that person finds it difficult to reach toward a normal state of mind, he might be suffering from PTSD.
PTSD symptoms usually start within a month of inciting events and may persist for months or years depending upon the situation. This can be cumbersome as they tend to interfere with work and social life with a decline in a personal state of mind with time. PTSD symptoms can be categorized into four varieties:
This usually includes avoiding people or places that remind a person of inciting events for PTSD. This even includes avoiding thinking about that event and not confronting it.
Intrusive memories include recurring dreams about the terrible event with flashbacks of reliving that moment. The memories of that event also contribute toward PTSD. If the person suffered physical distress during an inciting event for PTSD that also becomes a reminder for that trauma.
PTSD can lead to negative changes in mood that affects you and the people you hold dear in life. Some negative changes in mod may include:
Negative thoughts about the world
Lack of interest
Feeling detached from loved ones
Difficulty in feeling emotions
Difficulty in maintaining meaningful relationships
PTSD can lead to the way a person behaves both physically and emotionally. This may include:
Aggressive or irritable behavior
Guilt or shame
Always being on edge
PTSD symptoms don’t have the same intensity all the time. People may experience these symptoms especially when they are stressed or anxious, or when a similar event occurs or for example, a car backfiring can make a soldier relive combat experience.
When to see a doctor for PTSD?
Any person who thinks he/she is suffering from PTSD should see a doctor or a therapist as soon as possible. Especially if PTSD is interfering with the quality of life and you are getting trouble performing your routines before the event. This will not only help to alleviate symptoms of PTSD but also provide mental health support as well.
Risk factors for developing PTSD:
Although anyone could develop PTSD at any point in life, some factors make a person more prone to develop PTSD than others, like:
Lacking a support system with friends and family
Having a family history of mental health disorders
History of substance abuse or addiction
Having mental health problems like anxiety or depression
A job that increases the chances of experiencing traumatic events
Experiencing trauma earlier in life
History of childhood abuse
The most common events that are known to lead to PTSD are combat exposure, accidents, childhood abuse, sexual abuse or violence, and physical assault.
Complications of PTSD:
PTSD can not only affect work and life but also interfere with a person’s health, social relations, and daily routines. PTSD also makes a person prone to other mental health disorders like:
Treatment of PTSD:
Post-traumatic stress disorder treatment targets to regain control over a person’s life again. Treatment options include both medications and therapy.
Different types of psychotherapy or more commonly known as talk therapy can be employed to help treat PTSD. These include:
1. Cognitive therapy: This usually deals with recognizing the thought processes that are causing your PTSD and worsening its symptoms. This then helps improve positive thinking and getting rid of negative thoughts.
2. Exposure therapy: This is beneficial if a person suffers from flashbacks or nightmares a lot. It works by gently confronting memories about the PTSD inciting event and gaining control of your mind.
3. EMDR or Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing: This involves guided eye movements that help track traumatic experiences and change the way a person reacts to them.
Some doctors might even prescribe anti-depressants or anxiolytic medications to fight some symptoms of PTSD too.
Helping someone with PTSD:
PTSD usually takes a heavy toll on relationships. It can be really hard and feel like walking in eggshells at times. Here are a few ways you can help your loved one suffering from PTSD.
Provide social support, be patient, and help them return to normal activities
Try to be a good listener and avoid passing judgment too soon
Express your commitment to them and try building trust
Anticipate triggers for their PTSD and manage accordingly
All this can eventually help you gain back control of your life after a traumatic experience. Always consult your mental health professional to choose the best treatment plan for you.
PTSD in veterans:
Far too often we get to hear about our veterans suffering from PTSD that can affect heir life in numerous ways. Veterans are especially prone to develop PTSD due to extreme duress and the nature of their job. Mental health professionals recommend three ways veterans can help themselves get rid of PTSD and come back to normal life:
Connect with others, join support groups or talk with loved ones
Regulate your body by meditation, yoga, and breathing exercises
Get the body moving by regular exercising
Please ask for help. It may take time to treat your symptoms and understand and cure the root of the problem, but you have the right to a healthier state of mind, and there are good professionals trained to help you. Be patient with yourself, you are not alone.
Test HERE if you have PTSD.
Read more about PTSD and how it can affect you in different ways HERE.