Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an illness caused by an unfortunate incident, whether it is felt or seen. Symptoms may include retroactive flashbacks, hallucinations, extreme panic, uncontrollable anxiety, and depression.
Most individuals suffering from trauma respond with moods that range from anxious to depressed. Such responses are normal and for most people, they go away over time. PTSD is the enduring product of horrendous trials and tribulations, whether it be sexual or physical abuse, sudden loss of a loved person, injury, war, natural disaster. These events can cause a person to develop severe terror, helplessness, and nightmares over the course of time.
What are the symptoms of PTSD?
Effects of post-traumatic stress disorder can begin within one month after an occurrence, but the disorder can continue several years after the event. Such symptoms cause major personal difficulties and can affect nearly every aspect of their life.
Someone who has PTSD also relives the traumatic event through hallucinations and visions and can feel isolated, frustrated and even guilty. Symptoms can appear a few months or even years after an event. There are three major types of signs that usually accompany a disorder like PTSD:
- Feel the torment all over again through distorted thoughts, visions, and hallucinations.
- Emotional numbness and the avoidance of trauma-related areas, people, and behaviors.
- Troubles with sleeping, focusing, a paranoia.
With time, the severity of PTSD symptoms can differ. If you get depressed in general, or when you have reminders of a traumatic event, you may have more PTSD symptoms. For example, a veteran can hear a car backfire and experience gruesome thoughts of combat again.
What are the common causes of PTSD?
War is a leading cause of PTSD, and it is only starting to be acknowledged in the last few years. PTSD became a massive issue for people who came back from major wars like World War 1, World War 2, and the Vietnam War. The life-changing effects of battle on the minds and bodies of our military men and women can be detrimental. But besides battle, there are other types of events that can trigger PTSD; these include but are not limited to:
Unforeseen death of a loved one
An unforeseen death of a loved one can be a very traumatic thing to deal with. Witnessing a loved one pass away right before your very eyes, however they pass, can be unsettling, to say the least. If you have developed a strong connection with someone and witness their passing, you can relive the experience over and over again in your mind for years to come.
Although violent assaults are not always sexual, they often include severe offenses, which are comparable to sexual assault and prolonged sexual abuse. Such an act as sexual abuse can induce emotional and physical scars that can be hard to get rid of. A person who has been sexually abused may be triggered into remembering or reliving the event when they have a sexual encounter, drive by the place where it happened, or even hear a person’s name that reminds them of the event.
Once someone is attacked, they never really rid themselves of the trauma, unless they are able to do so through therapy. However, for the most part, an event like this can not be so easily forgotten. The body and mind do not have a reset button.
Other factors which lead to PTSD are as follows:
- Continual bullying
- Emotional, mental, or verbal abuse
- Childhood neglect
- Natural disasters (floods, hurricanes, blizzards, avalanches, etc.)
- Terrorist attacks
- Witnessed crimes
When to see a doctor?
If you have troubling thoughts and feelings of depression due to a traumatic experience, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional to get the help you need. Leaving an issue like PTSD unchecked can only end in tragedy.
What are the treatments provided for patients with PTSD?
PTSD recovery is a step-by-step, continual process. PTSD symptoms rarely disappear entirely, but treatment can help patients better cope with them. Therapy may lead to less and less severe reactions as well as a better capacity to deal with trauma-related emotions.
PTSD is aimed at reducing the effects of emotion and physicality, enhancing the day-to-day productivity, and allowing the patient to better deal with the condition. PTSD treatment can include psychotherapy (a counseling type), medication, or both.
Physicians use certain antidepressant medications like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Paxil, Celexa, Luvox, Prozac and Zoloft, and tricyclic antidepressants like Elavil and Doxepin, to treat and monitor symptoms of PTSD.
Mood stabilizers like Depakote and Lamictal are sometimes used as well as atypical antipsychotics like Seroquel and Abilify. Some of the drugs used to regulate different symptoms of blood pressure are also utilized.
Therapy for PTSD
PTSD therapy involves helping the patient understand how to deal with symptoms and how to cope. Therapy also works at informing people and their families about the disease and helping people understand the disorder so they know how to communicate with the person affected by it. The following are some of the therapies that are used for treating PTSD.
It involves learning to recognize and alter habits of thought that contribute to upsetting feelings, perceptions, and actions.
It focuses on helping the individual to examine personal values and traumatic emotional conflicts.
It may be beneficial by allowing a person to be in an environment filled with other people who experienced similar traumatic events. Through group therapy, they can relate and sympathize with other people dealing with PTSD. This makes the person feel less alone and more comfortable dealing with their thoughts, fears, and emotions.
Individuals who experience traumatic events like sexual assault, war, or death have a hard time dealing with depression, anxiety, and paranoia. These can be very difficult things to deal with, but the best way to deal with a problem like PTSD is though therapy. Proper help and support may help an individual suffering from PTSD avoid reliving their traumatic experience and discover a power over the event. Through support and guidance, PTSD can be handled and dealt with successfully.
Talk to Someone Who’s Been There. Talk to Someone Who Can Help. Scottsdale Recovery Center holds the highest accreditation (Joint Commission) and is Arizona’s premier rehab facility since 2007. Call 602-346-9142.