This kind of mental health condition is such that is triggered by an event that is terrifying and that is gotten whether through experience or by witnessing the terrifying action, a person is aware they are having PTSD when they begin to exhibit serious anxiety problems, or they begin to have nightmares and flashbacks about the event. This traumatic event may be either a natural disastrous occurrence, a ghastly accident, terrorist activities, war, rape, violence including those of a sexual nature, and threats of death. These experiences may cause intense fear, helplessness or horror, these things happen to not just the victims, but also the families and sometimes even the first responders. The peculiarity about persons with PTSD is that their Fight-flight nervous reaction is altered which results in continuous responses to fear even when there is no need to be afraid.
Previously PTSD had gone by different names including “shell-shock” and “combat fatigue” which was closely associated with war veterans, however this PTSD has been shown to occur even in non-war events and among non veterans. IT is estimated that out of 11 persons at least 1 person would suffer from PTSD throughout their lifetime and in addition, it is also stated that this mental condition affects about 3.5% of American Adults every year
Symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
The symptoms of PTSD can be grouped into four broad parts, though particular symptoms may vary. They include:
- Reliving: this kind of PTSD occurs when the patient often relives the ordeal through the lingering thoughts and memories of the trauma. They may exhibit this through hallucinations, flashbacks or when something uniquely reminds them of the particular event. It could also come through dreams or other means etc.
- Avoiding: This kind creates action in the patients that may lead to isolation, and detachment, as they would always try to avoid certain places, or persons or events that elicit the memories that give them the stress. They would also be careful with their thoughts as it regards the unfortunate event.
- Increased Arousal: This creates some alteration in their emotional capacity to relate with others. Their ability to show emotions, to relate with other persons may be severely altered, also they may experience difficulty in sleeping and concentrating. They may become quick to anger, and also very easy to frighten and to scare.
- Negative Cognitions and Moods: Another symptom of this is the difficulty in remembering certain important facts about the traumatic event, or having warped thoughts concerning what caused the event or the consequences of the event, they may begin to blame themselves, or create deformed beliefs about others.
To be clearly described as a case of PTSD, the symptoms as described above must have stayed on for more than a month, and have severe reactions to the daily functioning of the individual.
Causes of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Post traumatic stress disorder has different causes, it was often narrowly related with war experiences, but later the understanding that everyone who has had a traumatic experience may become susceptible to PTSD led to the conclusion that PTSD is not only caused by war related activities. Equally, not everyone who has had a traumatic experience will experience symptoms of PTSD, however the causes of PTSD which are quite complex are among the following:
- The severity and the frequency of a stressful occurrence
- Inherited mental conditions
- Inherited personality traits
- The brain’s reactions to chemicals and hormones released in the body as a way of responding to the stress
Who are those at risk of having PTSD
Age is not necessarily a determining factor in assessing those at risk of having PTSD, there are other critical factors such as:
- The sex of a person; it is said that most women are likely to become patients of PTSD
- The incidence of a childhood traumatic experience
- The incidence of a long lasting traumatic experience
- Lack of emotional and social support during/after the event
- Handling multiple stressful events in quick succession
- The presence of the medical history of mental illness and substance use and abuse
- Extreme feelings of horror and intense fear
- Coming in contact with another person being hurt or with a dead person
It is quite important that anybody experiencing symptoms of PTSD at most four weeks after the occurrence of the event should see a mental health practitioner for treatment of the condition.
Treatment of PTSD
Thankfully, PTSD can be treated, the treatments help the patient manage the event that triggers the reaction, and also to improve the quality of life of the patient ultimately. The main treatment for PTSD patients are:
Medication and Psychotherapy
- Medication: There can be the use of antidepressants as treatments for PTSD especially to take control of all the feelings of anxiety and other symptoms of PTSD. Sometimes, these drugs may present a side effect of dependence or addiction especially drugs that help with sleep and nightmares.
- Psychotherapy: this is a measure where conversations are used to teach the patient about their symptoms and ways to manage these symptoms; these may be a one on one conversation or it can happen in groups. Variety of talk therapies are available for patients who are suffering from PTSD, which include exposure to their faces, in a safe and controllable manner enabling the patient deal with their fears and also control them, another means is to help the patient understand the memories and make sense of their situations and their roles, the mental health professional, helps them see things realistically.
Essentially, helping people recover from PTSD can also be a social and intentional action such as: receiving support from friends and family or even a support group, understanding the need to feel okay about one’s action in the light of dangerous situations, having a control of your personal decisions which can be made without the influence of fear even in a fearful situation, and also the ability to own an adequate coping strategy that helps the patient run through bad situations without being a victim of PTSD.