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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

PTSD is a mental health condition resulting from a distressing incident. Symptoms include anxiety, flashbacks, nightmares, and intrusive memories of the event. While most people recover with time and self-care, persistent and severe symptoms that disrupt daily life may indicate PTSD. Timely and effective treatment is essential for symptom reduction and improved functioning.

Defining PTSD

PTSD is a psychiatric disorder that may develop after exposure to a traumatic event. This event could harm someone’s mental, bodily, social, and/or spiritual well-being. It can then be perceived as emotionally or physically damaging or even fatal. A few examples may include:

·      Natural catastrophes

·      catastrophic accidents

·      terrorist attacks

·      war and conflict

·      rape and sexual assault

·      historical trauma

·      violence against intimate partners

·      bullying

What distinguishes PTSD from a typical stress response is the persistence and severity of symptoms. The triggering event can be a one-time occurrence or repeated exposure. It often leaves an enduring mark on the individual’s mental and emotional well-being.

People suffering from PTSD have powerful, unsettling thoughts and feelings about their experiences. This persists long after the traumatic incident has occurred. 

They may have flashbacks or dreams about the occurrence. They may experience despair, fear, or fury. Likewise, they may also feel disconnected or estranged from others. 

Those who suffer from PTSD may avoid circumstances or persons who remind them of the traumatic experience. They may react strongly to something as simple as a loud noise or an unintentional touch.

Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms might occur within one month of a traumatic experience. However, they can also appear years later. Symptoms may vary over time or from person to person. PTSD symptoms are typically classified into four categories.

Intrusive memories

Symptoms of intrusive recollections include:

·      Flashbacks involve reliving the terrible incident as if it were happening again.

·      Undesired, recurrent, and upsetting memories of the terrible event.

·      Severe mental discomfort or bodily reactions to something that reminds you of the terrible experience.

·      Disturbing dreams or nightmares regarding the distressing occurrence.

Avoidance

Symptoms of avoidance may include:

·      Trying not to ponder or talk about the traumatic incident.

·      Avoiding activities, places, and people that bring up memories of the terrible occurrence.

Negative changes in mood and thinking

Symptoms of negative shifts in thought and mood can include:

·      Negative thoughts about oneself, others, or the world

·      Memory issues, include forgetting essential details of the traumatic experience.

·      Hopelessness for the future

·      Difficulty keeping tight relationships

·      Lack of interest in activities you once enjoyed

·      Feeling disconnected from friends and family

·      Difficulty feeling positive emotions

·      Feeling emotionally numb.

Changes in emotional and physical responses

Arousal symptoms include:

·      Be always on the lookout for danger.

·      Being quickly startled or scared.

·      Problems sleeping

·      Self-destructive behavior, such as driving too fast or drinking excessively.

·      Having trouble concentrating

·      Overwhelming guilt or humiliation.

·      Angry outbursts, irritability, or violent behavior.

Risk Factors for PTSD

People of any age can develop post-traumatic stress disorder. However, some characteristics may increase your risk of developing PTSD following a distressing event, such as:

·      Having endured additional trauma earlier in life like childhood abuse.

·      Experiencing severe or long-term trauma

·      Having a work that raises your risk of exposure to traumatic situations. This includes being a first responder or being a military personnel.

·      Having issues with substance abuse like drug usage or excessive alcohol.

·      Have other mental health disorders like depression or anxiety.

·      Having biological relatives that suffer from mental illnesses.

·      Lacking a strong support network of friends and family.

Medications for PTSD

Medication can help control PTSD symptoms. Furthermore, the symptom relief that medicine gives enables many people to participate more effectively in psychotherapy.

Some antidepressants are widely used to treat the primary symptoms of PTSD. This includes:

·      SSRIs- selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors

·      SNRIs- serotonin-norepinephrine re-uptake inhibitors

They can be used alone or in conjunction with psychotherapy or other treatments.

Other drugs may be used to reduce and address:

·      anxiety

·      physical agitation

·      nightmares and sleep issues

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