Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental condition that haunts people who have witnessed or gone through a traumatizing event. People with PTSD find it difficult to lead normal lives, but with good care and treatment, they usually heal.
Causes of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Many triggers cause PTSD. They include:
1. Natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods or landslides.
They are terrifying events for any normal human being. But some people cannot cope with these events. They end up developing PTSD. Whenever they hear any sound, they either retreat, start crying, or run away.
2. A serious accident can be traumatizing. If you’ve ever been to an accident scene, you will agree that it’s traumatizing. It’s one of the major causes of PTSD.
3. Terrorist incident
Research has shown that PTSD is on a high rise among military personnel who have been to war.
5. Violent assaults such as rape and serious bodily harm
6. The sudden/unexpected death of a loved one
Characteristics/symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
PTSD symptoms may show up within a month after witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event. Sometimes the symptoms may take years to show up. But when they show up, they can interfere with daily tasks, work, and relationships. They vary from one person to another. They fall into four groups:
i. Intrusive memories
These intrusive memories include:
• Severe response or reaction to anything that seems to remind you of the distressing event
• Reliving the event as if it’s happening again
• Nightmares and dreams about the event
• Persistent memories of the distressing event
• Retreating whenever you hear of anything that reminds you of the event.
• Trying to avoid talking about the event
• Avoiding people, places or activities which remind you of the event
iii. Negative changes in mood and thinking
• Hopeless thinking about the future
• Negative thought about people, places, the world and even yourself
• Memory problems
• Not being able to maintain close relationships.
• Feeling emotionally numb
• Straining to get positive emotions
• Losing interest in activities you loved doing
• Feeling detached from friends and families
Changes in emotional and physical reactions
• Always being alert for danger
• Being easily frightened or startled
• Trouble concentrating
• Trouble sleeping
• Life-threatening behaviors such as driving too fast or drinking too much alcohol
• Aggressive behavior
• Overwhelming shame or guilt
Treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
The main treatments include, medication and psychotherapy also referred to as “talk” therapy.
The most effective medicines include antidepressants that help control symptoms of PTSD. Antidepressants are sometimes prescribed together with psychotherapy. Other medicines can help specific symptoms. For example, Prazosin, although not FDA approved, helps with sleep problems such as nightmares.
To find the best medication and the right dosage, PTSD patients need to work together with their doctors.
Psychotherapy involves talking to a doctor. Talk therapy involves talking in a group or one on one with your doctor. It usually lasts for about 6 to 12 weeks. Some types of psychotherapy can help treat different symptoms of PTSD. They include:
Exposure therapy. Allows the patient to face their fears. It exposes them to the trauma. It helps patients to cope with their fears.
Cognitive restructuring. It helps the patient realistically handle the trauma. Sometimes patients end up feeling guilt or shame about something that’s not their fault.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder affects individuals differently. Therefore treatment will vary from one person to another. It is therefore recommended to seek help from a medical professional who has enough experience in PTSD. If the patient is going through another trauma, then both problems have to be addressed.