Anyone in the world, who has witnessed an extremely stressful event like an accident, death of a loved one, crimes, natural disasters, physical or sexual abuse, etc., can develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD.
It is a common and serious mental illness, and a person with PTSD can face difficulty coping with regular and everyday life. People who have gone through a traumatizing event will get repeated thoughts about the event and develop strong feelings of fear, guilt, shock, and anger.
LET’S LOOK AT THE CAUSES OF POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER
A distressing past event is considered to be one of the most common post-traumatic stress disorder causes. There are specific underlying causes that are based on certain reasons. These include the following:
PTSD can be the result of depression and anxiety if it runs in the family. Moreover, certain mental health problems can add to the body’s stress response, which can ultimately lead to the development of PTSD.
The common types of mental health problems like extreme anxiety, depression, anger, and stress can also be considered to be post-traumatic stress disorder causes.
Our brains are responsible for regulating hormones and chemicals that lead to fear, depression, and anxiety. If there is an imbalance in these brain chemicals that regulate these emotions, it might cause post-traumatic stress disorder.
A BRIEF DISCUSSION ON THE SYMPTOMS OF PTSD
Post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms usually vary from person to person. The symptoms of PTSD develop overcome time and can last from anywhere between months to several years. Following are some of the common post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms:
- Avoiding any thoughts of a traumatic event.
- Avoiding places, people, and any activity that is relatable to the traumatic event.
- A feeling of emotional numbness.
- Problems with memory.
- Unwanted recurring memories and thoughts.
- Having issues in maintaining close relationships.
- Anxiety and depression.
- Aggressive behavior.
- High Irritability.
- Frightening dreams of the traumatizing event.
- Disturbed and, in some cases, suicidal thoughts.
INDIVIDUALS WHO HAVE GREATER RISK OF DEVELOPING PTSD
Although risk factors do not play an essential role in developing post-traumatic stress disorder, it increases the chances of acquiring PTSD.
Here are the individuals who are at an increased risk of developing this condition:
- People who have had to go through a traumatizing event in the early life, for example, childhood physical abuse.
- People who have a history of mental health problems like depression and anxiety disorders.
- People who do not receive the requisite support from close ones after going through a traumatizing event.
- Very sensitive people.
- Individuals with a family history of psychophysiological or neurobiological responses to traumatizing events.
- People who have occupational exposure to traumatic events, like those who serve in the military.
- Individuals who rely on emotional support from family members, mainly because they have relocated or are staying away from them.
COMPLICATIONS DUE TO PTSD
PTSD can have a huge impact on the life of an individual. If post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms are left untreated for long durations, it can also disrupt individuals’ personal lives.
Following are some of the complications of PTSD:
- Extreme anxiety and depression.
- Developing issues with alcohol and/or drugs.
- Development of an eating disorder.
- Suicidal thoughts and also thoughts of harming oneself.
DIAGNOSIS OF POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER
In order to diagnose someone with PTSD, a mental health expert is likely going to:
- Carry out a physical examination:
This is done to check whether there are any medical problems that might be causing the symptoms.
- Carry out a thorough psychological evaluation:
This will involve discussing the signs and symptoms and the event/s that led up to them.
The doctor will look for the signs that are given below to identify post-traumatic stress disorder:
- The person’s response to trauma.
- Problems relating to behavior.
- The frequency of the intrusive thoughts.
- Nightmares or hallucinations.
NOW LET’S LOOK AT THE TREATMENTS FOR POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER
Effective post-traumatic stress disorder treatment can go a long way in helping to regain a sense of control over life.
And although psychotherapy is considered the primary form of treatment, specific acute post-traumatic stress disorder treatments might require medication. However, this strictly depends on the specialist.
A combination of these treatments can help improve the symptoms by:
- Teaching skills to address the symptoms.
- Helping to think better about oneself, others, and the world.
- Teaching how to cope with symptoms if they arise again.
- Treating other problems that can be related to traumatizing experiences, for example, anxiety, depression, or substance abuse.
As already discussed, this is widely considered to be the primary form of post-traumatic stress disorder treatment. Here are some of the different types of psychotherapy that are used for treating PTSD:
This form of talk therapy helps in recognizing the ways of thinking that are keeping someone with PTSD stuck. These include negative beliefs about oneself or the fear that that the traumatizing event might happen again. In the case of PTSD, cognitive therapy is often used with exposure therapy.
This type of psychotherapy is exceptionally beneficial for treating flashbacks and nightmares. It is basically a behavioral therapy that helps patients to cope with frightening events that they had to go through in the past.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
It combines exposure therapy and a series of guided eye movements that help in processing traumatic memories and change how individuals react to these memories.
Various medications are used for post-traumatic stress disorder treatment or at least improve the symptoms. They are as follows:
These drugs are extremely useful when it comes to improving the quality of sleep and concentration. The doctor will prescribe these medications to help reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression as well. Some of these drugs include sertraline and paroxetine.
These medications have the ability to give relief from the symptoms of severe anxiety and any related problem. However, as they have the potential for abuse, doctors usually prescribe for shorter periods.
It belongs to a class of alpha-blockers that mental health professionals usually prescribe to suppress or reduce insomnia symptoms that happen along with recurrent nightmares.
IN CONCLUSION….SOME TIPS THAT CAN HELP IN COPING WITH PTSD
In case of extreme stress and anxiety due to a traumatizing event, one should always consult a specialist. An individual can also take the following actions to cope with post-traumatic stress disorder:
Following the treatment plan:
It takes time for the therapy and medications to show results. But sticking to the treatment plan and communicating with the specialist can help a patient move forward.
Learning about PTSD:
By gathering knowledge about the disorder, one can understand what they are feeling, thus helping to develop a coping strategy to help respond effectively.
Taking care of oneself:
Getting enough rest, maintaining a healthy diet, exercising daily, and taking time out to relax are essential steps in keeping the levels of anxiety under control.
It is highly probable for someone with PTSD to numb their feelings with alcohol and drugs. And although this might be tempting, it is highly recommended to stay away from these substances as they can interfere with the treatment and prevent actual healing.
Spending time with loved ones can be of great help as well. It can especially offer comfort and healing, things that are so important to someone who has PTSD.
Joining a support group:
A person who has post-traumatic stress disorder can ask his/her doctor for help with finding a support group or contact a veteran’s organization. The person can also look for support groups in their online directory.