PTSD: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment
Many people who have suffered trauma undergo a period of stress in their lives. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) refers to an intense physical and emotional response to a traumatic event, like experiencing thoughts and memories of that particular event even after months it had happened. Read further to know the causes of PTSD, symptoms, and treatment of PTSD
What Are The Common PTSD Symptoms?
The average age at which PTSD symptoms appear is 22 years. 88.3% of males and 79% of females who were diagnosed with PTSD had at least one of the symptoms. Following are some of the most common PTSD symptoms:
• Reliving The Traumatic Event:
Are you getting nightmares or recurring thoughts about any disturbing event that you have ever experienced? Memories and recollection can happen at any time without warning and it could trigger you so much that you feel you are living through that event again.
Have you ever voluntarily avoided thinking about any particular event? This might be a symptom of PTSD. Avoidance symptom refers to consciously avoiding the place, people or situations that bring back your memories related to that event. Sometimes it could lead to changes in routine just to avoid triggers.
• Exaggerated Negative Beliefs:
After the traumatic event, the way you perceive yourself and others change for the worse. You could have trouble experiencing authentic emotions and end up with lots of guilt and shame, assuming no one can be trusted.
• Feeling Alert All The Time:
Are you constantly feeling angry and alert about any expected danger? This is referred to as an arousal symptom. Arousal symptoms make you feel agitated, tense, startled, and behave recklessly, interfering in everyday activities like sleeping, eating, or concentrating.
• Mood Symptoms:
In PTSD you might feel negative about yourself and filled with guilt and self-blaming tendencies. You isolate yourself from social events and lose interest in things you used to enjoy.
• Other Symptoms:
These include panic attacks, depression, suicidal thoughts, feeling isolated and inability to complete mundane tasks.
How Do PTSD Symptoms Show Up In Children?
Children and teens may not experience symptoms the same way as adults. This is because children have extreme reactions to trauma that can be witnessed through the following symptoms:
- Bedwetting even if the child knows how to use a bathroom.
- Inability to talk or forgetting how to talk
- Being strangely clingy to a parent or other adults.
- Acting out the traumatic event while playing.
What Are The Causes Of PTSD And Who Gets More Affected?
Ever wondered why some people are more vulnerable to PTSD while others are not? The truth is, not everyone who experiences dangerous situations develops PTSD in their lives. Here are some of the most common causes of PTSD:
- Exposure to dangerous events or trauma.
- Getting hurt or witnessing other people get hurt or killed.
- Helplessness or extreme fear.
- Having nobody to support you after the trauma.
- Additional stress that burdens the trauma.
- Family history of mental illness or substance abuse.
- Physical or sexual assault.
Treatment Of PTSD:
Sometimes PTSD symptoms go away on their own within three months. However, if the event that caused the trauma was severe, life-threatening, the symptoms do not go away on their own. The person may get recurrent thoughts of past trauma where they feel that they cannot just “get over it”. This is when it is advisable to contact a qualified mental health practitioner immediately.
Why suffer in silence when you have solutions? It is better to seek treatment for PTSD rather than suffering. If you feel that you have PTSD symptoms, reach out to a mental health practitioner experienced in treatment of PTSD. There are various treatment methods including psychotherapy, medications, or both.
Psychotherapy is a system of talk therapy where a mental health professional will provide education and guidance about the disturbing event in a safe way so that you can identify the source of the trigger and change the troubling emotions, thoughts and behaviours.
a. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy:
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is one of the most effective treatment methods for post-traumatic stress disorder. This technique consists of cognitive processing therapy (CPT) and Prolonged exposure therapy (PE).
- In cognitive processing therapy, you will learn how to identify trauma-related thoughts and change them in such a way that it is a lot less damaging.
- Prolonged exposure therapy is where you talk about the disturbing event over and over again until those memories no longer upset you. When you are exposed to the triggering event in a safe way, it helps you in managing your fears.
b. Stress Inoculation Training (SIT):
Stress inoculation training (SIT) consists of a combination of skills such as relaxation, stopping the thoughts and positive self-talk. These techniques help you to manage PTSD symptoms better.
c. Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprogramming (EMDR):
EMDR treatment involves thinking about the images and events that are triggering you. Your health practitioner will guide you to do this by making you move your eyeballs from side to side.
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI):
SSRI medications raise the levels of serotonin in your brain. They reduce symptoms of PTSD and make you feel better. They help you control feelings of sadness, anger, worry and emotional numbness. Some of the most commonly prescribed SSRI medications are:
How To Help Yourself While Suffering From PTSD?
Good things take time. With time and proper help, it is possible to get better and thrive. Here are some ways to support yourself:
- Discuss your treatment options with your healthcare advisor and follow the treatment plan.
- Spend quality time with family and friends you trust and discuss the things that trigger you.
- Try to follow a routine for food, exercise and sleep.
- Avoid alcohol and smoking.
- Be aware that your symptoms will improve gradually and not instantly.
- Set realistic goals and perform tasks according to your abilities.
Get Proper Help And Guidance To Overcome PTSD:
Treatment of PTSD is not a one-size-fits-all phenomenon, and sometimes in certain places, people could experience recurrence of symptoms. Some people recover from PTSD symptoms within three months, while others might take a longer time. Therefore, it is crucial to stay in touch with your mental health practitioner to formulate a plan and deal with the recurrence of PTSD symptoms.