Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD is a disorder characterized by failure to recover after experiencing or witnessing a terrifying event. Some people heal within 6 months or so…while there are many others who suffer for a longer duration. The triggers can bring back memories of trauma followed by intense emotional and physical reactions.

1 in 5 has a mental health condition and the moderate quality evidence finds the lifetime worldwide prevalence of PTSD in the general population is around 3.9%. In people known to have been exposed to trauma, the rate is 5.6%.

Symptoms may include nightmares, flashbacks, avoiding or withdrawing from situations that bring back the trauma, heightened reactivity to stimuli, anxiety, or depressed mood.

Symptoms can manifest as the following-
  • Behavioral: agitation, irritability, hostility, hypervigilance, self-destructive behavior, or social isolation
  • Psychological: flashback, fear, severe anxiety, or mistrust
  • Mood: loss of interest or pleasure in activities, guilt, or loneliness
  • Sleep: insomnia or nightmares
  • Also common: emotional detachment or unwanted thoughts

Alertness or feeling on edge-
This can include:

  • panicking when reminded of the trauma
  • being easily upset or angry
  • extreme alertness, also sometimes called ‘hypervigilance’
  • disturbed sleep or a lack of sleep
  • irritability or aggressive behavior
  • finding it hard to concentrate – including on simple or everyday tasks
  • being jumpy or easily startled
  • other symptoms of anxiety.

Avoiding feelings or memories-
This can include:

  • feeling like you have to keep busy
  • avoiding anything that reminds you of the trauma
  • being unable to remember details of what happened
  • feeling emotionally numb or cut off from your feelings
  • feeling physically numb or detached from your body
  • being unable to express affection
  • doing things that could be self-destructive or reckless
  • using alcohol or drugs to avoid memories.

Difficult beliefs or feelings-
This can include:

  • feeling like you can’t trust anyone
  • feeling like nowhere is safe
  • feeling like nobody understands
  • blaming yourself for what happened
  • overwhelming feelings of anger, sadness, guilt, or shame.

Most individuals who go through traumatic events may have short-term difficulty adjusting and coping, but with time and prioritized self-care, they usually begin to heal. Back in time, PTSD was thought to be something only military service members and veterans faced. This can happen to anyone, especially those who experience a traumatic event. PTSD is not similar to acute stress disorder. In acute stress disorder, the experiences are not long-term and may not disturb daily life functioning as compared to PTSD.

PTSD is a complex disorder with many distinct causes and results.
For a person to be diagnosed with PTSD, the symptoms must last for more than a month and must cause significant distress or problems in the individual’s daily functioning. Many people develop symptoms within a few months of the trauma but may show up later and persist for months or sometimes years. PTSD is a result of extreme and intense trauma that may dysregulate an individual’s nervous system to a greater extent.

Psychiatrists and other mental health professionals use various effective and research-backed treatment methods to help people recover from PTSD. Therapy and medication provide effective evidence-based treatments for PTSD and are the usual opted course of treatment.
The therapy comprises Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or an eclectic approach as per the person along with, Medication.

Don’t forget to be kind to yourself and others.

This blog was written under the expert guidance and feedback from Ms.Prachi Sharma, Clinical Psychologist at Edited and Coordinated by Ram

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