PTSD stands for Post-traumatic stress disorder and are symptoms that someone experiences after witnessing, suffering trauma, or having been in a life-threatening event.
Our brain makes an effort to protect us from all the painful feelings emanating and thus, suppresses some of this events, and this prevents us from fully going through the grieving process. Most people experiencing PTSD tend to have flashbacks of the traumatic event. and are also susceptible to panic attacks, depression, cognitive disorders, and memory lapse. Sometimes people undergoing opiate abuse treatment may also go through counselling for PTSD. Most people suffering from PTSD use are prone to substance abuse as they try to suppress their negative feelings through addiction.
There are about 17 signs that you need to be aware of for you to be diagnosed with PTSD. These include:
- Flashbacks of previous trauma – it is like it’s happening again.
- You get tense when reminded of an earlier event.
- Upsetting and invasive memories of the tragedy.
- Flashbacks cause physical symptoms like nausea, rapid heart rate, and irregular breathing.
- Recurring nightmares.
- Lack of interest in life and friends.
- Avoiding certain places that remind you of event.
- Emotional numbness.
- Negative thoughts.
- Inability to remember certain aspects of the tragic event
One characteristic of PTSD is that even though you have repressed certain aspects of the traumatic event, you still have flashbacks, bad memories or nightmares. It feels that the event is happening again. This causes the victim to feel anxious, suspicious, afraid, sad, lonely or guilty. These emotions are often accompanied by physical symptoms like heart palpitations, headaches, and panic attacks.
Since you have repressed the traumatic event in your memory, you often do not want to be reminded of anything that has a connection to the event. This can include places and people. When you avoid certain people, you become detached and this exuberates your feelings of loneliness.
Erratic Mood Swings
While having flashbacks is not a symptom that every person with PTSD experiences, some do get mood swings that are not related to the traumatic event. For one, you no longer enjoy activities that you found pleasurable. Negative thoughts also surround you and sometimes you contemplate suicide. You also may feel numb, sad, hopeless and depressed.
These feelings can be accompanied with shame and guilt. While you need close friends to be with you during this time, you often push them away. It is essential to take an interest in someone close suffering from PTSD because they are prone to suicides and reckless behaviour. Mood swings are often accompanied with behavioural changes as someone experiences arousal symptoms. This can include unusual bursts of anger or be overly aggressive. They also lack concentration, and this makes them struggle with work. Feelings of danger surround their minds, and the victims feel out of control. It is vital that at this time you seek medical help because the person can cause harm to themselves and others. Dangerous objects like knives and guns should be kept out of reach of the victim.
How Do You Treat PTSD?
Why we call PTSD the silent killer is that many people suffering from it are not even aware that they are suffering. Their health and relationships could be deteriorating, but they do not know the cause. Some may cause physical injuries to themselves and loved ones. To the extreme, we have witnessed sufferers take their own lives and those of others.
PTSD is not a disease that is relegated to a particular group of people but affects the young, the elderly in equal measure. It has even been found in special cases where it affects an unborn child. PTSD affects how the brain produces certain chemicals like serotonin. Doctors may recommend some drugs like Prozac, Celexa, Zoloft, or Paxil to treat PTSD.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is the other way to treat PTSD. In this case, a therapy helps a victim to relieve the effects that caused them to have PTSD. One of the symptoms of the disease is that victims suppress past painful memories. The therapy helps them relieve these memories gradually. As the person becomes aware of the thoughts that are contributing to their sadness, they are better able to manage them.
For example, the victim keeps blaming themselves for the death of a loved one. They say to themselves if I had not done so and so this person could still be alive. Therapy begins by uncovering the emotions that surround the effect. As the victim relieves the past, they can go through the grieving process and eventually be healed. Therapy can take a few months to over a year depending on cooperation by the victim.
The causes of PTSD vary, and doctors are still studying the disease. But it is not clear why some people experiencing the same traumatic event get it, and some do not. The severity of the experience can affect the amount of trauma one person goes through. It is also thought that there inherent characteristics of your character that are because of genetics. People with a certain temperament are more prone than others.
Risk factors that increase the chances of getting PTSD to include:
- Living in an abusive home where there is domestic violence and substance abuse.
- Being exposed to trauma for long periods
- Certain jobs like in the military increase the likelihood of getting the disease
- Being addicted to various drugs
- Having other mental illnesses like bipolar or social anxiety disorder
- Lack of a support system from family and friends.
Other events that contribute to the disease include sexual violence, road accidents, physical assault, kidnappings, torture, cancer diagnosis, fire, and natural disaster.
PTSD is real and causes life-threatening problems. The sufferer often feels sad or lonely and is more prone to drug addictions. It is vital that you diagnose the problem early before the person causes harm to both themselves and their loved ones. PTSD can be treated through various medications, Cognitive behavioural therapy among others. It is recommended that you see your doctor first before self – medicating. The severity of the trauma will determine the process of recovery.