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Experiencing a traumatic event can be extremely stressful. For some, these events can trigger an unpleasant set of reactions, which can become post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
PTSD is a mental health disorder wherein the person fails to recover from a traumatic event. The possibility of suffering from this disorder depends on the grievousness and frequency of the incident and can be mild in some while being severe in many others. Those suffering from mild PTSD are temporarily unable to cope with difficult situations, while the critically affected people must seek necessary medical attention.
The traumatic events may be a real-life incident or a perceived threat of injury or death and may include:
- Natural calamities like earthquakes, famines, or floods
- Military combat
- Abuse as in childhood neglect, physical assault, or sexual abuse
- Major accidents causing injuries and loss of limbs
The effects of PTSD can be critical. Though seemingly normal among us, PTSD patients sense danger in every situation. The ‘fight or flight response’ is severely altered causing the affected person to feel stressed or fearful even in the most subtle or harmless situations.
Since PTSD symptoms are increasingly prevalent in war veterans, this emotional disorder has also been labeled “shell shock” or “battle fatigue”. Contrary to the myth that this mental disease affects only the old, mental health specialists maintain that it can affect anyone unbiased of age, gender, or race.
Development of PTSD
Many of us may have experienced at least one traumatic event in our lives.
In the US, 70 percent of adults, in their lifetime, experience at least one traumatic event. 20 percent of them develop PTSD. Also, in a given year, around 8 million Americans have PTSD. The global picture is no better. In fact, in countries where mental health remains a secondary thought and there’s a lack of adequate mental healthcare infrastructure, some experts believe the number of people struggling with PTSD could be higher. Those diagnosed with this disorder go through several stages before getting treated for it. The four stages of development of PTSD include:
- Impact Stage: This is a stage that people undergo almost immediately after they have experienced the trauma. It may be difficult for some people to cope with the aftermath of the incident, they show signs of anxiety, hypervigilance, and possibly shame.
- Denial Stage: Some people prefer to be in a state of denial of their problem and its associated symptoms even while seeking recovery. While they suffer from recurring memories of the incident or experience strong feelings associated with it, they try to suppress their emotions. Many also turn to alcohol or drugs to numb their feelings at this stage.
- Short-term Recovery Stage: This is the stage where patients attempt at self-recovery by discussing their problems with their friends and loved ones. While PTSD-affected patients try to adjust to their daily routines looking for normalcy in their lives, some of them turn overly cynical and distrustful of everything and everyone around them.
- Long-term Recovery Stage: This is the stage that begets immediate medical attention as the patient struggles with recurring nightmares and complains of uncontrolled anxiety problems. These negative symptoms can have a deteriorating effect on both the body and mind, thus, necessitating both therapeutic and medicinal treatment methods.
Signs and Symptoms of PTSD
For some, the signs of post-traumatic stress disorder are not visible until many years post the traumatic incident. However, some may be seriously affected by violence and bloodbath synonymous with war and terrorism or persistent domestic abuse and find it difficult to get rid of the consequent pain and turmoil within.
Psychologists classify PTSD into mainly four types including:
- Intrusive memories: Some of the most common signs of intrusive memories include:
- Suffering from repetitive and unwanted remembrances of the traumatic incident
- Flashbacks of the traumatic incident forcing the affected to relieve the pain and emotional injury suffered
- Struggling due to upsetting dreams or nightmares about the traumatic incident
- Chronic emotional distress and terrifying physical reactions including self-harming tendencies in response to the traumatic event.
- Avoidance: This is a kind of behavior in which the affected individual avoids:
- Talking or thinking about the traumatic incident
- Activities, places, or situations that remind them of the event
- Negative thinking: Sometimes the impact of the traumatic incident may be such that it may usher in negative thoughts about oneself and the people around. This may trigger symptoms like:
- Negative outlook towards the society around
- Feeling hopeless about the future
- Incapacitated memory rendering it difficult to remember important aspects of the traumatic event
- Difficulty in forming and maintaining close relationships
- Detachment from friends and loved ones
- Disinterest in daily activities
- Emotional numbness
- Changes in physical and emotional reactions: There are visible changes in physical and emotional reactions like:
- Feeling frightened on trivial issues or getting easily startled
- Being on guard always
- Self-destructive tendency
- Experiencing trouble in sleeping
- Inability to concentrate or focus
- Sudden angry outbursts or feeling angry for nothing
- An unwarranted feeling of guilt or shame
Traumatic experiences can leave a permanent impression on the minds of small children who are as young as 6-10 years old. These kids may show signs and symptoms like:
- Re-enacting the traumatic incident or events synonymous with the traumatic event
- Feeling terrified because of recurring nightmares different from their traumatic experiences
Not many are aware of the meaning of PTSD and how it affects one’s daily living and the problems it poses on one’s social life and work relationships. In daily parlance, people’s understanding of what does PTSD means is limited to its literary explanation. They are not aware of the spilling effect of this disorder if not treated in time.
Incidental stress can cause the surfacing of mild symptoms of this disease, though sudden reminders of these incidents can trigger unwarranted reactions. Mental health experts reveal that those diagnosed with PTSD are also at an equal risk of suffering from other emotional health disorders like anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, etc. Inability to cope with their terrifying experiences and the resulting trauma may push them to take alcohol or drugs for better coping.
Who Is at Risk of Suffering from PTSD?
There is no specific age group or race more susceptible to PTSD than others. Numerous risk factors come into play for the possible development of the disorder. These include:
- Women are at an increased risk of suffering from PTSD
- Children affected by traumatic events when young
- Exposure to horrifying or traumatic incidents in defense-related jobs
- Constant feelings of hopelessness and fear due to domestic abuse
- Persistent experience of trauma due to similar recurring incidents
- Lack of social support or tendency to live in isolation
- Experiencing pain due to the loss of a loved one in an accident or gruesome incident
- Having a history of emotional disorder or substance abuse
Can PTSD Lead to Suicidal Tendencies?
Subtle reminders of incidents like sexual assault, severe bomb explosions, murders, the suicide of a family member, etc. can bring back haunting memories of the event. Inability to cope with the grief and trauma can result in many affected people contemplating suicide. When overwhelmed with suicidal thoughts, the affected may try the following options to seek necessary relief.
- Reach out to a close friend or loved one
- Get in touch with some spiritual leader for temporary healing
- Call the suicide helpline number and seek immediate help
- Get in touch with a mental health professional or a psychologist
Treatment Options for PTSD
Psychologists decide on the right treatment for PTSD depending on the grievousness of the patient’s symptoms. Mental health specialists recommend talk therapy or medicines or a combination of both. The different ways to treat PTSD include:
- Talk therapy: This involves the psychologists discussing the symptoms of the disorder with their patients, identifying the risk factors that trigger their symptoms, the frequency of the signs that they are afflicted with, and advising their patients, ways to deal with them. Depending on the seriousness of the disorder. There are multiple different types of talk therapy recommended by professionals based on the severity of the disorder.
- Medications: This is used when patients complain and show suicidal tendencies to get rid of the recurring pain and trauma stemming from their experiences in the past. In many cases, doctors also prescribe antidepressants to help their patients deal with their misery, feelings of desolation and dejection, anger, and numbness inside. Other medicines enable them to sleep sans the terrifying impact of nightmares.
Seeking Medical Help: Why Cadabam’s Hospitals
Ignoring PTSD symptoms will only aggravate the problem. At Cadabam’s Hospitals, we have a multi-specialty team of mental health professionals who strive to ensure that no emotional disorder goes untreated. PTSD patients are treated using the most novel therapies and practices to help them recover and reclaim their lives faster. With customized treatment options and round-the-clock care, our experts ensure that you receive the best treatment. Our overall approach keeps ‘care for you’ at the center, ensuring all your needs, requirements, and problems are met with complete adequacy.
For more than 30 years, we have worked with countless patients, enabling them to defeat their PTSD. We promise you the same outcome.
If you’re experiencing PTSD symptoms – or you know someone who’s struggling with PTSD – get in touch with us today. Call us on +919741476476.