If you are involved in, or bear witness to a traumatic event at some point during your lifetime, it is common that you may experience some distressing, upsetting, or confusing feelings for a time afterwards. These reactions may not occur immediately, as after a traumatic incident, many people are left feeling numb for a while, and it is only after time has passed that they begin to develop physical and emotional reactions to what happened. Sometimes, these symptoms will appear, and then begin to diminish after a relatively short period of time, but if your issues continue to persist for longer than a month, or are particularly intense, then you may be suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). There is no time limit on when this condition may develop, and some individuals begin to experience symptoms year after they were exposed to the event. Furthermore, not everyone who experiences a traumatic event will be diagnosed with PTSD. If you, or a loved one does suffer with post traumatic stress disorder, then accessing treatment could be essential when it comes to reducing symptoms and regaining control of your life.
The Symptoms of PTSD
Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder can begin to develop within months of a traumatic event, or they may not appear for years. Whenever they do begin to arise, these symptoms often have a significant effect upon various aspects of the individual’s life, including their ability to cope in social situations, relationships, and holding down a job. The symptoms of PTSD are typically separated into four categories: avoidance, intrusive memories, negative changes in mood and thinking, or changes in emotional reaction.
Avoidance is when a person:
- Attempts to avoid places, objects, or activities that may remind them of the traumatic event they experienced.
- Refuses to go somewhere due to emerging phobias.
- Attempts to avoid talking or thinking about the event completely.
Intrusive memories are memories which impose upon the person’s life, usually with some distress, the symptoms of these can include:
- Reoccurring distressing memories of the event which caused the trauma
- Upsetting dreams that could affect the individual’s ability to sleep
- Panic attacks when intrusive memories arise
- Troubling emotional or physical reactions to something which may remind the individual of the event
- Flashbacks that lead an individual to believe they are reliving the event
Negative changes in mood and thinking could include:
- Depression or a sense of hopelessness about the future
- Memory problems
- Lack of interest in the activities you may have previously enjoyed
- Difficulty maintaining relationships
- Feelings of emotional numbness
Changes in emotional reactions could include:
- Trouble sleeping
- Difficulty concentrating
- Irritability or unreasonable anger
- Self-destructive or harmful behavior
- Difficulty eating
The way that symptoms for post-traumatic stress disorder present themselves can vary over time. Individuals may suffer more from the symptoms of PTSD during periods of stress. Post-traumatic stress can also increase an individual’s risk of experiencing other problems with mental health, such as anxiety, issues with addiction or substance abuse, and eating disorders.
The Causes of PTSD
Individuals may develop post-traumatic stress disorder when they experience, witness, or go through an event involving serious injury, actual or threatened death, or sexual violation. At this point in time, doctors are not sure why some people develop PTSD and others do not, but as with other forms of mental illness and anxiety disorders, many regard PTSD to be a mixture of some of the following factors:
- Life experiences, including any trauma that you may have been exposed to as a child
- Inherited or genetic aspects of your personality
- Inherited mental health risks, such as increased susceptibility to depression
- The way chemicals and hormones are regulated within your brain.
Not everyone who has experienced trauma in his or her lives will develop a full case of post-traumatic stress disorder. The course of the disorder will typically vary, with some people recovering after a matter of months, and others experiencing symptoms which last for much long or become chronic. A mental health expert usually diagnosis PTSD after establishing an individual has had all of the following symptoms for a period of at least one month:
- Two hyper arousal symptoms, such as negative changes in mood and thinking, or changes in emotional reaction
- Three avoidance symptoms
- One symptom of intrusive memories
When it comes to treating trauma, it is important to remember that everyone is different, and so a treatment that may work perfectly for one person may not be as effective for another. It is important for anyone who believes they are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder to seek help from a mental health professional who has experience dealing with issues of PTSD. You may find that you need to try various different treatments before you discover one that works for you. But the main treatment is typically a combination of medication and psychotherapy.
Psychotherapy can help by teaching individuals coping mechanisms that assist them in dealing with stressful situations and reacting more appropriately to frightening events or stressors that may trigger PTSD symptoms. In an attempt to achieve this goal, talking therapies may aim to teach individuals more about trauma, and the effects it can have on a person, as well as offering relaxation techniques, tips for better diet, sleep and exercise, and assistance in dealing with feelings of guilt, shame, or other painful emotions regarding the event in question. Psychotherapy may also attempt to change the way a person reacts to the symptoms of PTSD, by helping people to alter, their thought processes and avoid negative or harmful practices.
The Food and Drug Administration organization within America, (FDA) has approved two particular forms of medication for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder, paroxetine, and sertraline. Both of these are antidepressants which can help to control some of the symptoms of PTSD, including anger, worry, sadness, and a feeling of emotional numbness. Sometimes, taking medications such as these can help people to go through psychotherapy more successfully.
Post-traumatic stress disorder, and other psychological disorders can be extremely difficult to live with, causing symptoms that significantly alter a person’s life and reduce their well-being. Seeking treatment is essential, and if you feel that you could benefit from further help regarding PTSD, make sure you call Creative Care today.