PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) is basically a mental health disorder that some individuals get after seeing or experiencing traumatic events. Those events can be life-threatening, like car accidents, sexual assaults, and natural disasters. But at times, those events are not dangerous ones. For instance, the unexpected or sudden death of your loved one or death may result in PTSD.
It is completely normal to be afraid after and during traumatic situations. The fear will trigger a flight-or-fight response. This is a way for your body to help protect itself from harm. It may result in changes in the body, like the production of certain hormones, as well as an increase in breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, and alertness.
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Types of PTSD
There are different kinds of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). Some of the most common types of PTSD include:
- Dissociative: Apart from meeting all the criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder, this kind of PTSD requires symptoms of either derealization or depersonalization.
- Delayed expression: Before, this kind of post-traumatic stress disorder used to be called ‘delayed onset.’ It occurs when a person gets diagnosed around six months after traumatic events take place.
- Complex PTSD: It is characterized by several traumatic events happening over time.
If you get a traumatic event, your CNS will react with a fight-flight response. Your heart will pound even faster, muscles tighten more, and blood pressure increases, and at the same time, increase your reaction.
Post-traumatic stress disorder occurs if you experience too much stress. Although the dangers have passed, your CNS will be stuck, unable to go back to a normal state of balance.
Recovering from the disorder involves helping your CNS become unstuck so that you may move on and heal from this trauma.
PTSD symptoms usually start within four months of traumatic events. However, the condition doesn’t start until years later in most situations.
The duration and severity of this condition vary. Some individuals will recover within five months, whereas others suffer from it even longer.
Usually, PTSD symptoms are grouped into four major categories. These categories include the following:
- Negative mood and cognitions: This refers to feelings and thoughts associated with memories, estrangement, and blame for traumatic events.
- Increased arousal: These usually include excessive emotions, showing affection, being jumpy, difficulty concentrating, outbursts of anger, and staying or falling asleep. A person can as well suffer certain physical symptoms, like rapid breathing, diarrhea, nausea, muscle tension, heart rate, and increased blood pressure.
- Avoiding: A person suffering from PTSD can avoid thoughts, situations, places, and people who might remind them of traumatic events. This might result in detachment feelings and isolation from friends and family.
- Reliving: Individuals suffering from PTSD relive ordeal through memories and thoughts of traumatic events. These might include nightmares, hallucinations, and flashbacks. They might as well feel a lot of distress when a certain thing reminds them of their trauma, like an anniversary date of an event.
Diagnosis and Screening
When all these symptoms last for more than one month and result in impairment or distress, you will be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. Know that there will be no need to check all the boxes for PTSD diagnosis. You only have to experience certain symptoms from every diagnosis category from qualified mental health experts.
As part of a diagnostic process, people can go through screening tests to determine whether they have PTSD. The screening time will take around 30 minutes. Longer assessments might be used when there is a legal implication.
When symptoms disappear after several weeks, there can be an acute stress disorder diagnosis. The disorder may last for a long time, and its symptoms can be more severe.
It is imperative to note that not every individual experiencing traumatic situations develop PTSD condition, and not all of them who get the condition need psychiatric treatment.
For some individuals, PTSD symptoms disappear or subside over time, whereas others will get better with the help of clergy, friends, or family.
Psychiatrists, as well as other mental health experts, use different methods so as to recover from the condition. Both medication and therapies, like the following, will provide effective treatments:
- Group therapy
- Stress inoculation
- Prolonged exposure
- Cognitive processing
After surviving traumatic events, most individuals have PTSD-like symptoms, like being unable to stop thinking of everything that is happening.
Getting timely support and help can prevent stress reactions from developing PTSD and getting even worse. This can mean turning to friends and family who offer comfort and listen.
In a Nutshell!
If you live with post-traumatic stress disorder, know that you are not alone. Rather, know that you are one of the survivors.
Proper treatment will help you relieve symptoms and may give you strategies for coping with intrusive flashbacks, memories, and thoughts.
Plus, through the right medications, support groups, and therapy, you will be able to get yourself on the recovery road.