What You Need To Know About Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric disorder that may present in people who have faced traumatic events such as war/combat, natural disaster, terrorist act, or have been threatened with death, severe injury, or sexual violence.
PTSD has been known by different terms, such as "shell shock" during World War I and "combat fatigue" after World War II. Remember that PTSD doesn't only occur in combat veterans. It can happen to everyone, from any culture, ethnicity, or age.
People with PTSD have severe, troubling thoughts and feelings relevant to experience that remain even after the traumatic event. They may revive the event via flashbacks or nightmares, feel sad, fear or anger, and keep themselves isolated from other people. People who experience PTSD may also avoid situations that remind them of traumatic events and have adverse reactions to something as ordinary as a loud noise or an accidental touch.
Symptoms and Diagnosis
PTSD symptoms fall into the four primary categories, and some symptoms can be severe.
Intrusive thoughts such as unconscious memories, disturbing dreams, or flashbacks of the traumatic event. Flashback may be so intense that people feel they are reliving or experiencing the traumatic event in reality.
Avoiding recaps of the traumatic event may involve avoiding specific places, people, or activities that trigger distressing memories. People may try to avoid recalling that traumatic event and don't like to discuss with others what happened or how they feel about it.
Change in Cognition and Mood
Cognition and mood change symptoms may include the inability to remind significant aspects of traumatic event and feelings leading to distorted beliefs about self and others; distorted thoughts about the cause of event leading to blaming self or others; ongoing fear or guilt; lack of interest in favourite activities, feeling detached from others, or unable to experience positive emotions.
Change in Arousal and Reactivity
Its symptoms may involve being short-tempered and having angry outbursts; acting recklessly; being easily startled, or facing trouble while sleeping and concentrating.
Many people with PSTD exposed to a traumatic event have symptoms similar to those described above. For a person to be diagnosed with PTSD, symptoms must last for more than a month and cause distress in their daily functioning. Many people develop PTSD symptoms within three months of trauma, but symptoms may appear later. PTSD can also occur from chronic illnesses, such as depression, substance use, memory problem, and other physical and mental health issues.
It's a fact that not everyone who has trauma develops PTSD, and not everyone with PTSD needs psychiatric treatment. For some people, PTSD causes and symptoms disappear with time, and others get better with their family or friends' support. However, it is essential to remember that trauma may lead to extreme distress. That distress is not the individual's mistake, and even PTSD from chronic illness is also treatable.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive behaviour therapy, a type of psychotherapy, is an effective treatment for PTSD. Cognitive processing therapy, prolonged exposure therapy, and stress inclusion therapy are some types of CBT used to treat PTSD.
Stress Inoculation Therapy
It aims to arm the affected person with the required coping skills to defend against stressful triggers through exposure to milder stress.
Other psychotherapies such as interpersonal, supportive, and psychodynamic therapies emphasise the emotional and interpersonal aspects of PTSD. These may be helpful for people who don't want to expose themselves to reminders of their traumas.
Prolonged Exposure Therapy
It uses a repeated, detailed recap of the trauma in a controlled way to assist a person's facing and gaining control of fear and distress and learning to cope. For instance, VR programs help war veterans with PTSD therapeutically re-experience the battlefield.
Cognitive Processing Therapy
It focuses on changing painful negative emotions and beliefs due to trauma. Therapists help the person face such distressing memories and emotions.
Medication assists in controlling PTSD symptoms. Some antidepressants, such as SSRI (selective serotine reuptake inhibitors) and SNRIs (serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors), are commonly used to treat PTSD. These are used either alone or in combination with psychotherapy or other treatment. Other medications may be used to reduce anxiety and physical agitation or treat the sleep issues and nightmares that trouble people with PTSD.
Other treatments, including alternative and complementary therapies, also help people with PTSD. These approaches offer treatment outside the conventional mental health clinic and may need less conversation and disclosure than psychotherapy such as acupuncture and animal-assisted therapy. In addition to treatment, many people with PTSD find it beneficial to share their experiences with people having similar experiences, such as peer group support.