Posttraumatic Stress Disorder | symptoms and treatments
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder is a mental illness that can happen after someone has been through a traumatic event. Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is an anxiety disorder that develops in some people who have experienced intense fear, terror, and helplessness during certain events. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may develop immediately after you experience the event or it may take weeks or months afterwards.
People who have been through a traumatic experience may experience persistent, distressing thoughts and emotions in the months and years following the event. The thoughts and feelings of PTSD range from reliving the trauma over and over again to having frightening, intrusive images or reactions when you’re reminded of what happened.
You may feel on edge all the time, have difficulty sleeping, become easily startled, lose interest in things that were once important to you, experience relationship problems with your family members and friends, and have problems concentrating.
People who have PTSD may feel very sad or angry, and experience relationship problems with their family members and friends. Many people also suffer from depression as a result of the trauma they experienced which can increase their risk for suicide. A person’s life may become more negative due to experiencing symptoms that are distressing such as reliving the trauma over and over again, having frightening, intrusive images or reactions when reminded of what happened.
People with PTSD often have problems concentrating because they’re always thinking about their traumatic event which can lead to difficulties at school or work.
Symptoms and Diagnosis
The symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder are many and varied depending on the type of trauma the person has experienced; however, there are common symptoms which include: flashbacks to the traumatic event (intense memories), nightmares about it (terrifying dreams), feelings of detachment from other people; avoidance behavior; heightened arousal such as anger or irritability; depression and suicidal thoughts.
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder is diagnosed when a person experiences symptoms for more than one month. PTSD can be difficult to diagnose because some of the symptoms may occur in people who have not experienced trauma.
The four types of PTSD symptoms are as follows: Symptoms within each category vary considerably in intensity.
- Intrusion: Involves the reliving of the traumatic event in some way. Flashbacks are an example of this type of symptom, where a person feels as though they have gone back to that moment again and become lost in very vivid memories or images.
- Emotional Numbness: A sense that feelings or parts of yourself important to you do not exist anymore. People with this type of PTSD often feel as though they have “shut down” emotionally.
- Arousal and Reactivity: Involves a heightened state of awareness that may be constantly on the alert for danger or threats. This symptom can cause sleep difficulties, irritability, anger outbursts, over-vigilance (constantly looking for danger), and hyper-arousal, which can make it difficult for a person to relax
- Cognition: Involves difficulties with thinking or memory. This may be due to flashbacks, but is more often caused by avoidance of thoughts related to the trauma (e.g., avoiding conversations about the event) using alcohol or drugs as a way of coping, or having feelings of detachment from other people. However, this symptom may also be due to the depression that often accompanies PTSD.
PTSD can be treated with a number of different therapies that have been shown effective for treating PTSD. These include: Cognitive behavioural therapy, Eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing or EMDR. This type of treatment involves recalling the traumatic event while attending to an external stimulus such as eye movements or hand taps which helps “unfreeze” the memory making them less distressing.
PTSD can also be treated with medications such as anti-anxiety medication, antidepressants and anticonvulsants which help control anxiety or depression symptoms. The most effective treatment for PTSD is a combination of therapies including psychotherapy, cognitive behavioural therapy and antidepressants. This type of treatment has been shown to reduce the symptoms of PTSD and prevent the development of other mental health problems.
Cognitive behavioural therapy
Cognitive behavioural therapy (often abbreviated to CBT) is a form of psychotherapy that aims to solve problems concerning dysfunctional emotions, behaviours and cognitions through a goal-oriented, systematic procedure. This type of treatment has been shown effective for treating Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.
Anti-anxiety medication is a drug that treats anxiety disorders. Anxiety disorders involve intense fear and nervousness, as well as physical symptoms such as sweating, trembling, muscle tension and increased heart rate.
Antidepressant medications work by increasing the availability of certain neurotransmitters in the brain, especially serotonin or norepinephrine. The neurotransmitters in the brain influence mood and thinking, among other things.
Related conditions of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
PTSD is often accompanied by other mental health problems such as depression or substance abuse. As a result, PTSD sufferers are at increased risk of suicide and self-harm than the general population.
some Related Conditions include:
- Acute Stress Disorder: This involves symptoms similar to PTSD but lasts for a shorter period of time (less than four weeks).
- Adjustment disorder: PTSD symptoms occur within the first three months of a traumatic event, and last for longer than four weeks.
- Depression: PTSD can cause depression in some people who have this condition. This is due to certain thought patterns such as constantly obsessing over traumas or past events that may be related to your trauma (e.g., when you go to bed at night you keep thinking about the traumatic event)
- Dissociative Disorders: PTSD can be accompanied by experiences of depersonalization (a feeling that one is observing themselves as an outside observer) or derealisation (feeling disconnected from reality). These types of symptoms are often associated with other disorders such as Dissociative Identity Disorder or Dissociative Disorders Not Otherwise Specified.
Conclusion: If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, it is important that you seek help. The doctors at our clinic can provide a diagnosis and treatment plan to address your needs. Contact us today for more information or to schedule an appointment with one of our experts.