Have you ever been apart from or heard of a traumatic event or suffer from nightmares and flashbacks that lead to feelings of isolation, irritability and guilt?
This is called PTSD or Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder.
What is PTSD in simple terms?
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health disorder that starts after a traumatic event. This occurrence can entail a real or potential injury or death threat. It is an anxiety disorder caused by very stressful, frightening or distressing events.
After a traumatic experience, it’s normal to feel frightened, sad, anxious, and disconnected. But if the upset doesn’t fade, you may be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD can develop following any event that makes you fear for your safety.
Most people associate PTSD with sexual harassment and assault or military combat. But any event, or series of events, that overwhelms you with feelings of hopelessness and helplessness and leaves you emotionally shattered, can trigger PTSD—especially if the event feels unpredictable and uncontrollable.
PTSD may impact people experiencing the traumatic incident, people watching or people collecting the objects afterwards, for example, emergency personnel and law enforcement officers. It can also happen in certain friends or families that have been traumatised.
Cause of PTSD:
Your nervous system responds by battle or flight reaction when you encounter a traumatic incident. Your heart knows more quickly, your blood pressure increases, your muscles strengthen and your reaction speed increases. Your nervous system will relax the body, lower your heart rate, lower blood pressure and return to normal health once the danger has passed.
PTSD takes place when a situation is too overwhelming. Although the danger is over, the nervous system is “stuck,” you cannot return to its usual equilibrium and can’t go on. PTSD rehabilitation means that the nervous system is “unstuck,” so you can treat and get away from the trauma.
Signs & Symptoms of PTSD:
PTSD evolves differently from person to person as each person has a different nervous system and stress tolerance. In hours and days after a traumatic incident, you will most certainly experience signs of PTSD, but sometimes it may take weeks, months or even years to see them. Symptoms often come out of the blue, obviously. In some instances, something that reminds you of the original traumatic incident such as a noise, a visual, some words, or a smell is activated.
While everyone experiences PTSD differently, there are four main types of symptoms.
- Re-experience the pain by remembering intrusive thoughts, explosions, flashbacks, or extreme mental or physical reactions.
- Prevent and engulf, for example, prevent anything that reminds you of trauma, be unable to recall aspects of the ordeal, a lack of interest in events and life, an emotionally numb and distant feeling from others, and a sense of a restricted future.
- Hyperarousal, including sleep problems, irritability, hypervigilance (“red alert”), feeling jumpy or easily startled, angry outbursts, and aggressive, self-destructive, or reckless behaviour.
- Negative thought and mood changes like feeling alienated and alone, difficulty concentrating or remembering, depression and hopelessness, feeling distrust and betrayal, and feeling guilt, shame, or self-blame.
Whereas the symptoms of PTSD differ in children and adolescents. Some of which are :
- Fear that you will be separated from your parents.
- Existing phobia and fears not linked to trauma (such as fear of monsters).
- Trauma by playing, sharing stories or drawing.
While it’s impossible to predict who will develop PTSD in response to trauma, there are certain risk factors that increase your vulnerability. Many risk factors revolve around the nature of the traumatic event itself.
If you suspect that you or a loved one has post-traumatic stress disorder, it’s important to seek help right away. The sooner PTSD is treated, the easier it is to overcome. If you’re reluctant to seek help, keep in mind that PTSD is not a sign of weakness, and the only way to overcome it is to confront what happened to you and learn to accept it as a part of your past. This process is much easier with the guidance and support of an experienced therapist or doctor.
It’s only natural to want to avoid painful memories and feelings. But if you try to numb yourself and push your memories away, PTSD will only get worse. You can’t escape your emotions completely—they emerge under stress or whenever you let down your guard—and trying to do so is exhausting. The avoidance will ultimately harm your relationships, your ability to function, and the quality of your life.
Whatever the cause for your PTSD, by seeking treatment, reaching out for support, and developing new coping skills, you can learn to manage your symptoms, reduce painful memories, and move on with your life. You can always book an appointment with a therapist on the TABIIB app and website.