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Home » What is PTSD? Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

What is PTSD? Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Publish Date: 05 March 2022; Author: Dan Sharp.
Medical Condition - PTSD Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

PTSD stands for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which refers to a mental condition triggered by some terrifying event.

This triggering can either be due to experiencing or witnessing it.

The common symptoms of the health condition include nightmares, severe anxiety, flashbacks, and uncontrollable thoughts about the event.

Most people experiencing traumatic events may have difficulty coping with the disease; however, they can improve with excellent self-care and time.

If the symptoms worsen or last longer, the person may be diagnosed with PTSD.

However, after adequate treatment, the critical issues can be reduced, and the functioning can be improved.

Symptoms of PTSD

The disorder’s symptoms may begin within a month of a traumatic event but sometimes may also not appear for the years after the event.

PTSD symptoms are commonly grouped into four types. This includes:

  • Intrusive memories
  • Avoidance
  • Adverse changes in mood and thinking
  • Changes in emotional and physical reactions

The symptoms of PTSD may vary from person to person. So, let us get familiar with the symptoms of each type.

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Intrusive Memories Symptoms

  • Recurrent or unwanted distressing memories of the traumatic event
  • Nightmares about the traumatic event
  • Having flashbacks of the same traumatic event
  • Severe emotional stress or physical reactions to something reminding you of the same traumatic event

Avoidance Symptoms

  • Trying to talk or thinking about the same traumatic event
  • Avoiding activities, people, or places that remind you of the same event

Adverse Changes in Mood or Thinking Symptoms

  • Negative thoughts about yourself
  • Memory issues
  • Hopelessness about future
  • Feeling detached from friends and family
  • Difficulty in maintaining close relationships
  • Difficulty experiencing positive emotions
  • Lack of interest in the activities once you enjoyed
  • Feeling emotionally numb
  • Changes in emotional and physical reactions symptoms
  • Being easily frightened
  • Self-destructive behaviour
  • Always being on guard for danger
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Overwhelming shame or guilt
  • Angry outbursts
  • Irritability

Symptoms Intensity

The intensity of symptoms may vary over time. The person may experience more health condition symptoms if they are stressed in general.

When do you need to see a medical doctor?

If you have had disturbing feelings or thoughts about the same traumatic event for more than a month and if the symptoms are severe, you have to see a medical doctor before the symptoms worsen.

What if you have negative thoughts about yourself or any suicidal thoughts?

  • You must reach out to your loved ones, friends, or family.
  • Adapt activities like meditation
  • Seek a medical professional’s help

Causes of PTSD

You can experience the post-traumatic stress disorders symptoms about an event involving threatened or actual death, sexual violation, or severe injury.

Even the medical doctors are not sure why some people experience PTSD, but according to them, most of the issues are caused due to the complex mix of:

  • Inherited mental health risks
  • Stressful experiences
  • The way an individual’s brain regulates the chemicals or hormones the body liberates in response to stress
  • Inherited features of personality

Risk factors involved!

People of any age can develop PTSD symptoms. However, many factors are more likely to develop after a traumatic event. This includes:

  • Experiencing long-lasting or intense trauma
  • Having a job that enhances the risk of being exposed to traumatic events
  • Having experienced some other trauma earlier in life.
  • Having issues with any substance misuse
  • Having other mental problems like depression or anxiety
  • Having blood relatives with mental health issues
  • Lacking a sound support system in friends and family

What kind of traumatic events can lead to PTSD?

  • Combat exposure
  • Sexual violence
  • Childhood physical abuse
  • Physical assault
  • An accident
  • Being threatened with a weapon

Complications Involved

Diagnosing with PTSD can disrupt the entire life and even affect everyday activities. However, having diagnosed with PTSD may increase the risk of other mental health issues like

  • Anxiety and depression
  • Suicidal thoughts and actions
  • Eating disorders
  • Problems with alcohol and drug use

Prevention from PTSD

After surviving some traumatic event, some people might experience the symptoms immediately; however, some may share it in the later stages.

Getting help on time may prevent the individual from experiencing the everyday stress and getting it worse into PTSD symptoms.

This means that you can either seek medical professional help or turn to your friends, family, or loved ones who may offer comfort from the stress.

Diagnosis of PTSD

The diagnosis of PTSD will include a thorough examination of several factors. However, the medical doctor is likely to

  • Perform a thorough physical examination
  • Perform a psychological evaluation
  • Use the criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders

The diagnosis of PTSD needs exposure to a traumatic event that involves the possible threat of death, serious injury, or violence. Exposure to the traumatic event can happen in several ways; this includes

  • Direct exposure to the traumatic event
  • The traumatic event occurred to others, but you witnessed the same
  • Repeated exposure to graphic details of the traumatic event

Treatment of PTSD

PTSD treatment can help an individual regain a sense of control over life.

The primary treatment of PTSD is psychotherapy that can also include meditation. However, combining several therapies can help improve the symptoms. this includes:

  • Teaching the skills to address the symptoms
  • Learning ways to cope if any of the symptoms arise again
  • Helping think better about yourself
  • Treating the issues associated with traumatic experiences.

Psychotherapy

Several types of psychotherapy can be used to treat the health condition. However, the most commonly recommended types of psychotherapies include:

  • Cognitive therapy
  • Exposure therapy
  • Eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing

Medications to treat PTSD

The several common types of medications to treat PTSD include:

  • Antidepressants
  • Anti Anxiety medications
  • Prazosin

Coping with the health condition

Coping with the health condition may include several considerations. This includes

  • Follow the treatment plan appropriately
  • Learn about the health condition
  • Do not self-medication; seek professional’s advice only
  • Consider a support group

What you must do?

Before visiting the medical doctor, make a list of

  • Any symptoms you are experiencing
  • Your medical information
  • How long have the symptoms you have been experiencing
  • Is there anything that facilitates in improving your symptoms
  • Any other questions to ask

Bottom Line!

PTSD can get worse if not treated on time. So, you gotta seek a medical professional’s help immediately if you experience any of the symptoms.

Stay tuned for more!

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