Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

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What is PTSD?

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental and behavioural condition that develops as a result of witnessing a traumatic incident, such as physical harassment, sexual abuse, combat, road accident, mistreatment, violence, or other threats to a life of the individual.

Symptoms may include distressing thoughts, sensations, or nightmares about the events, mental or physical suffering in reaction to trauma-related signals, attempts to avoid trauma-related cues, adjustments in how an individual thinks and feels, and an increase in the fight-or-flight response.

This “fight-or-flight” response is a common reflex aimed at keeping a person safe. Almost everyone will have a variety of reactions to trauma, but the majority of individuals will heal spontaneously from the initial symptoms. Those who continue to have issues may be labelled with PTSD. People suffering from PTSD may experience tension or fear even when they are not in danger.

These symptoms might linger up to a month after the occurrence. Young children are less likely to verbalise their feelings of sadness, but they may convey their memories via play.

Suicide and purposeful self-harm are more likely in those who have PTSD.

Some factors that increase risk for PTSD, include:

  • Living through dangerous events and traumas
  • Getting hurt
  • Seeing another person hurt, or seeing a dead body
  • Childhood trauma
  • Feeling horror, helplessness, or extreme fear
  • Having little or no social support after the event
  • Dealing with extra stress after the event, such as loss of a loved one, pain and injury, or loss of a job or home
  • Having a history of mental illness or substance abuse

Symptoms Of PTSD

PTSD symptoms usually appear within three months of the triggering traumatic experience, but they might appear years later. In most cases, the person suffering from PTSD avoids either trauma-related thoughts and feelings or discussion of the terrible incident, and may even have amnesia about the occurrence. However, the individual generally relives the experience through intrusive, recurring recollections, dissociative periods of experiencing the trauma (“flashbacks”), and nightmares (50 to 70 percent ). Individuals working in jobs that expose them to violence (such as soldiers) or catastrophes (such as emergency service employees) are also at risk. There is evidence that PTSD susceptibility is inherited. Genetics alone account for around 30% of the diversity in PTSD.

An adult must exhibit all of the following symptoms for at least one month in order to be diagnosed with PTSD:

Re-experiencing symptoms

  • Flashbacks—reliving the tragedy over and over again, accompanied by bodily symptoms such as a racing heart or sweating
  • recurring nightmares
  • Disturbing thoughts

Re-experiencing symptoms can also be triggered by words, things, or settings that serve as reminders of the incident.

Avoidance symptoms

It include avoiding places, situations, or items that remind one of the traumatic experience.

Avoiding thoughts or emotions associated with the unpleasant incident

Avoidance symptoms might be triggered by things that remind a person of the traumatic incident.

Arousal and reactivity symptoms

  • Being easily frightened
  • Tension or being “on edge”
  • Having trouble sleeping
  • Having rage-filled outbursts

Cognitive and mood symptoms include:

  • Having difficulty recalling important details of the traumatic event
  • Negative thoughts about oneself or the world 
  • Ideas that are unpleasant to oneself or the world 
  • Distorted emotions such as shame or blame
  • Loss of enthusiasm for pleasurable activities

Cognition and mood symptoms can develop or worsen following a stressful incident, but they are not caused by injury or substance abuse. These symptoms might cause a person to feel alienated or distant from friends and family.

Treatment of PTSD

Counseling (psychotherapy) and medicines are the most often used therapies for those suffering from PTSD. Because everyone is unique and PTSD affects everyone differently, a treatment that works for one person may not work for another. Anyone suffering from PTSD should get treatment from a PTSD-experienced mental health professional. Some persons with PTSD may need to attempt a variety of therapies to discover the one that best fits their symptoms.

Antidepressants, which may help manage PTSD symptoms such as depression, concern, rage, and feeling numb inside, are the most researched form of drug for treating PTSD. Other drugs may be beneficial in treating certain PTSD symptoms such as insomnia and nightmares.

Psychotherapy (sometimes known as “talk therapy”) is the process of talking with a mental health practitioner in order to treat a mental illness. Psychotherapy can be done one-on-one or in a group setting. Treatment for PTSD with talk therapy typically lasts 6 to 12 weeks, although it can last longer. According to research, family and friend support can be a vital element of healing.

People suffering from PTSD can benefit from a variety of psychotherapies. Some varieties specifically target PTSD symptoms. Other treatments concentrate on social, family, or work-related issues.

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