Post-traumatic stress disorder is a disorder that might be developed in some people who may experience shocking, scary, or dangerous events. If you are feeling afraid after a traumatic experience it is very natural. It takes months or years mostly depending on the condition to get recovered from PTSD. To get a diagnosis of PTSD disorder a person must have at least one re-experiencing symptom, at least three avoidance symptoms, two negative alterations in mood and cognition, and two hyperarousal symptoms for at least one month.
What causes PTSD?
PTSD is caused due to the following reasons
1. When you have met with accidents that might be very serious.
2. When you are physically or sexually assaulted.
3. When you are being abused in childhood.
4. When you are exposed to traumatic events at work.
5. When you are faced with serious health problems and have been in intensive care.
6. When you face childbirth experiences like losing a baby.
7. When you are unable to face the death of someone very close to you.
8. When you are faced with war and conflict.
9. When you are been tortured.
Symptoms of PTSD
The symptoms of PTSD are characterized into four groups.
1. Intrusive memories
Symptoms of intrusive memories are
Being faced with unwanted distress which is memories that are mainly based on a traumatic event.
2. Being faced with traumatic events like flashbacks in the sense that it is happening again.
3. You may face dreams that might upset you and have nightmares of the traumatic event.
4. You will also face severe emotional distress and physical reactions if you are reminded of the traumatic event.
Symptoms of avoidance are
1. You try to avoid or even think about the traumatic event.
2. You will also start avoiding the places, activities, or people that might remind you of the traumatic event.
Negative changes in thinking and mood
Symptoms of negative changes in thinking and mood are
1. Having negative thoughts about yourself, others, and the world.
2. Feeling the hopelessness of the future.
3. Difficulty in recalling things related to traumatic events and memory-related problems
4. Finding it difficult to maintain relationships.
5. No interest in activities.
6. Finding it tough to express positive emotions.
7. Feeling too emotional often
Changes in physical and emotional reactions
Symptoms of changes in physical and emotional reactions are
1. Startled and frightened easily.
2. Trying to guard as if some danger is coming nearby.
3. Drinking too much or driving too fast.
4. Having trouble in falling asleep
5. Having trouble in concentrating.
6. Irritated, aggressive or irritating behavior.
These symptoms can vary among individuals.
Long-term effects for PTSD
Long-term effects of PTSD include
People who are suffering from PTSD also suffer from nervousness and fear. They might feel that are in danger and act aggressively for their safety. Due to emotions, they might rely on alcohol and drugs. Therefore it may lead to mental health problems and can also affect their work performance.
2. Social Withdrawal
People who suffer from PTSD might ignore their family, friends, and society too. They might also feel unsafe when they are with others. It can affect their health and worsen leading to medical conditions.
3. Insomnia and other sleep Disturbances
People who suffer from PTSD have difficulty falling asleep which further leads to insomnia. When they wake up they don’t have energy which may further lead to fatigue and other symptoms. Insomnia increases diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
4. Shame or Guilt
After having faced traumatic events people who suffer from PTSD usually face guilt or shame. They often think that they have done things differently which changes the outcomes of the event. They think overly which might cause anxiety and depression.
5. Chronic pain
People who have gone through sexual abuse, accidents, war, or natural disaster may experience chronic pain. This pain makes them realise the trauma which can worsen people with PTSD.
Stages of PTSD
The stages of PTSD are
1. The impact or emergency stage
The impact or emergency stage is the first stage of PTSD. It occurs only after a person has witnessed and experienced a traumatic event. The person lasts with this stage depending upon the severity of the event. The deeper the traumatic experience the longer the trauma lasts. Eg: Losing Your house in floods.
Symptoms like shock, fear, withdrawal, guilt feeling of helplessness, and anxiety are seen.
2. The Rescue stage
The rescue stage is the second stage of PTSD. During this stage, the person accepts whatever has happened. To follow this they might return to the place where the incident had happened and also talk to others who survived in the incident. This stage doesn’t refer to complete recovery.
Symptoms like denial, anxiety, confusion, panic, guilt, sadness, and anger are seen.
3. Short-term recovery stage
Short-term recovery is the third stage of PTSD in which the person might return to his or her normal zone. People might experience physical recovery from traumatic events. For eg: If someone went through surgery after the accident will go back home.
4. Long-term recovery stage
The long-term recovery stage is a phase that rebuilds and continues to deal with personal and post-event problems. When they come to this stage they become more concerned about their future and present.
Symptoms like depression, resentment, and fear are seen.
Treatment of PTSD
Treatment of PTSD is
1. Cognitive processing therapy
It is a treatment that is given for 12 weeks and weekly sessions of 60-90 minutes. In this therapy, you have to tell about your thoughts with your therapist as to how the traumatic event has affected your life. Then you have to write the details of what happened on paper. Doing this will help the person with PTSD to figure out, examine and live with it.
2. Prolonged exposure Therapy
It mainly involves 15 sessions usually 90 minutes each. Earlier to this, your therapist will teach breathing exercises to avoid anxiety mainly when you think of the incident. Later you can make a list of things that you have been avoiding. In another session, you talk about the traumatic experience and this will be recorded and once you go back home you can listen to it.
3. Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing
In this treatment, you need not tell your therapist about your incident but instead, you concentrate on it while you watch or listen they are doing like moving a hand, flashing a light, or making a sound. The goal is to think positive things while you remember the trauma. 3 months are needed for this.
4. Stress inoculation training
You can do this by yourself or in a group. No need of going into detail about what happened. It mainly focuses on how you change to deal with stress from the event. You might learn breathing techniques and massage. By three months you should have skills to release the added stress.
Doctors will give you medications depending upon your condition of PTSD
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What are the four stages of PTSD
The four stages are
The impact or emergency stage
The recovery stage
The short-term recovery stage
The long-term recovery stage
2. What is the treatment for PTSD
The treatment of PTSD is
Cognitive processing therapy
Prolonged exposure therapy
Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing
Stress inoculation training Medication