Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder- What does it mean?
Fear is a normal emotion both during and following a terrible event. Fear causes the body to go through a number of split-second modifications that aid in defending against or avoiding danger. This normal “fight-or-flight” response is aimed to defend a person from danger. Almost every individual will experience a wide range of responses after trauma, but the majority of people naturally recover from the initial symptoms. It is critical to pay attention if these issues and responses after trauma persist for a protracted period of time and begin to affect your mental health and daily life.
A horrific incident can cause post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a mental health disease that can be brought on by experiencing it or seeing it. Despite the fact that they aren’t in danger, those with PTSD may experience worry or fear.
How can you know if you are dealing with PTSD?
While the majority of traumatized individuals, though not all, have transient symptoms, most do not endure persistent (chronic) PTSD. Not every person with PTSD has experienced a life-threatening situation. PTSD can also be brought on by specific events, such as the abrupt, unexpected loss of a loved one.
Signs and Symptoms to watch out for:
The majority of the time, symptoms appear within three months of the traumatic event, although they might also appear years afterward. To be deemed as PTSD, symptoms must last for more than a month and be sufficiently severe to interfere with connections or jobs. The sickness takes different courses. While some people’s symptoms subside after six months, others continue to have them. The problem can become chronic in certain persons.
To be diagnosed with PTSD, an adult must have all of the following for at least 1 month:
- At least one symptom has returned
- At least one sign of avoidance
- Two or more arousal and reactivity signs
- Two or more mental and emotional symptoms
Let’s look at each symptom in detail
- Symptoms that return include:
- Flashbacks—reliving the event repeatedly, often with physiological signs such as a beating heart or perspiration
- Bad dreams
- Unsettling ideas
These signs might interfere with a person’s regular activities.
- Symptoms of avoidance include:
- Avoiding locations, occasions, or things that provide reminders of the terrible event
- Avoiding anything that reminds you of the painful incident
- Symptoms of arousal and reactivity include:
- Prone to becoming startled
- A tense or “on edge” feeling
- Having trouble falling asleep
- Having a fit of rage
- Cognitive and emotional signs include:
- Having trouble recalling important details of the horrific incident
- Ideas that are unfavorable to yourself or the world
- Distorted emotions such as blame or remorse
- Loss of enthusiasm for fun activities
After a stressful occurrence, it is normal to experience some of such symptoms for a few weeks. The symptoms may constitute PTSD if they last for more than a month, impair one’s capacity to function, and aren’t brought on by drug use, a physical condition, or anything else than the original event. Some PTSD sufferers go weeks or months without exhibiting any symptoms.
Let’s look at the case of Aanand to understand PTSD better:
A 27-year-old man named Aanand approached the therapist for assistance at his fiancée’s prompting. He served two tours of service in the Army as a colonel before receiving an honorable discharge in 2014. Since his second tour of duty, he has “not been the same,” according to his fiance, and this has a negative effect on their battalion. Despite giving few specifics, he admits that he has trouble falling asleep, that he “sleeps with one eye open,” and that he occasionally experiences nightmares when he does fall asleep deeply. He acknowledges having gone through some unpleasant experiences on his second tour but declines to elaborate, telling you he has never spoken with anybody about them and is unsure whether he ever will. Because he feels angry and doesn’t want to snap at people, he spends a lot of time alone. He informs you that he finds it challenging to carry out his responsibilities as a security guard since they are monotonous and offer him too much time to reflect. At the same time, both when on duty and at home, he is easily startled by noise and movement and spends too much time looking for dangers that are never proven. He describes having intrusive memories of his traumatic experiences on a daily basis but he declines to share any details. He also avoids seeing friends from his battalion because seeing them reminds him of experiences that he does not want to remember.
What can trigger PTSD?
There might be PTSD triggers all around you. Even while it may occasionally seem as though PTSD symptoms just appear out of nowhere, this is very rarely the case. The internal (anything that occurs within your body, like emotional responses) or external (that which occurs outside of your body, like a stressful scenario) environment frequently serves as a trigger or signal for PTSD symptoms.
Here are some examples of PTSD triggers:
- Internal causes
- Feeling deserted and lonely
- Feeling uncontrollable
- Feeling exposed
- Tense muscles
- Rapid heart rate
- External Events
- Some odors
- Relationship’s end
- Reading a news story that makes you think about your horrific experience
- Seeing a person who makes you think of someone associated with your unpleasant experience
- A particular location
- Watching a film or TV show that triggers memories of your painful experience
- Seeing a vehicle collision
- The secret to managing is to recognize these triggers early on and take action to limit their effects.
The psychiatric ailment post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) frequently coexists with other mental illnesses. The great majority of people with PTSD fulfill the criteria for at least one additional mental disease, and a significant number have three or more other diagnoses, according to data from epidemiologic studies. Depression, drug misuse, or one or more of the other anxiety disorders, such as generalized anxiety disorder and separation anxiety disorder, are frequently present alongside PTSD.
Do kids respond to PTSD in a different way than adults?
Although children and teenagers might react to trauma in significant ways, few of their symptoms may appear to be different from adults. Very young kids (less than 6 years old) may occasionally have the following symptoms:
- Wetting the bed
- Losing the ability to speak
- Acting out the spooky incident while playing
- Abnormally clinging behavior toward a parent or another adult
Teenagers and older kids are more prone to exhibit symptoms that are comparable to those in adults. Additionally, they could start acting in disruptive, disrespectful, or harmful ways. Teenagers and older kids could feel bad for not doing more to stop accidents or fatalities. They could also consider exacting retribution.
Resilience and Risk Factors
PTSD may strike anybody at any age. Veterans of war, kids, victims of physical or sexual abuse, accidents, natural disasters, or other traumatic experiences are all included in this. According to studies, 7 to 8 people among every 100 will get PTSD at some time in their life. Women are more likely than males to experience PTSD, and some people may be predisposed to the disorder due to genetics
Not every person with PTSD has experienced a life-threatening situation. After a companion or member of their family is in danger or suffers trauma, some people acquire PTSD. PTSD can also result from a loved one dying suddenly and unexpectedly.
There are several factors that increase the possibility of PTSD, such as:
- Experiencing horrific events and dangerous circumstances
- Being injured Having a dreadful, hopeless, or scary emotion after witnessing someone else be wounded or learning that a child was bodily traumatized.
- Getting minimal to no social support in the aftermath of the incident, coping with extra stress from the incident—such as grieving a deceased loved one, going through pain and injury, losing a job or a home—and having a history of drug abuse or mental illness
Resilience factors following a traumatic event can help in coping, such as:
- Soliciting help from others, such as family and friends, or finding a support group after a traumatic event.
- Learning to be confident in one’s own decisions when facing peril
- Having a healthy coping mechanism, or a technique to get through the unpleasant experience and learn from it
- Being capable of responding and acting in spite of dread
Now the most important question arises- Is it possible to overcome PTSD on your own?
Living with PTSD can feel overwhelming, but with expert assistance and certain self-help techniques, the triggers and symptoms can be somewhat managed. Let’s look at some therapies/therapeutic treatments and self-help strategies useful in managing PTSD symptoms.
- Therapies and Treatments
There is no conclusive treatment for PTSD. However, it can be efficiently controlled. Anyone with PTSD should receive treatment from a mental health professional who has experience with the condition. Some PTSD sufferers might have to attempt many therapies before settling on one that effectively manages their symptoms. The most successful treatment for the majority of people with this illness combines medication, trauma therapy, and self-care skills. These therapies can lessen symptoms and aid in the recovery from the traumatic event or events that caused them. A treatment that is effective for one person might not be effective for another since everyone is unique and PTSD impacts people in various ways.
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Watch our youtube video to know more about different therapies used for treating PTSD:
- Self-help strategies
- Recognize the causes of PTSD– You may discover that particular memories, circumstances, or persons appear to bring on flashbacks or other signs. These might be specific things like noises, phrases, scents, places, or whole categories of literature or movies that serve as memories of prior trauma.
- Put your faith in someone– It might be tough to open up to others while suffering from PTSD, whether because you feel reluctant to talk about what occurred to you or perhaps you find it difficult to trust people in the wake of your horrific experience. However, you don’t have to be able to articulate the trauma in order to communicate how you are experiencing it right now. It could be beneficial to speak with a friend, relative, or expert.
- Take your time– Everybody responds to trauma in a unique way, so it’s important to go at your own pace. For instance, it might not be helpful to share your experiences before you are ready. Try to be sympathetic with yourself instead of being hard on yourself for needing time and assistance to heal from PTSD.
- Maintain your physical well-being– Coping with PTSD may be difficult. Maintaining your physical health may have an influence on how you feel emotionally, even if you don’t feel like you have the energy. A few steps that you can take to take care of your physical well-being are:
- Consider your diet: When things get tough, staying hydrated, eating often, and maintaining a steady blood sugar level will help you deal.
- Take a walk outside: Even if the outer world may seem overwhelming, spending time in a natural environment may improve your well-being.
- Abstain from alcohol and narcotics: While you might desire to use drugs or alcohol to deal with unpleasant emotions, memories, or physical discomfort, doing so might ultimately make you feel worse. They may exacerbate existing issues, such as difficulties sleeping.
Watch our video to know about ways to maintain health when dealing with PTSD
- Attempt meditation- People with PTSD may find mindfulness meditation, which focuses on the present moment, quite useful. According to a number of studies, those who practice mindfulness had much fewer PTSD symptoms than others who did not engage in any meditation strategy.
- Use breathing techniques- Utilizing deep breathing methods will help you lower your cortisol levels, which can ease tension and anxiety. Without realizing it, many individuals frequently take short breaths. This is a result of the body’s normal fight, flight, or freeze reaction, which is frequently hyperactive in PTSD sufferers. De-escalating the protective reaction can be accomplished by deliberately breathing deeply from the diaphragm.
The 4-7-8 strategy is one well-liked approach. This entails inhaling for 4 seconds via the nose, retaining the breath for 7, and then expelling for 8 seconds through the mouth.
- Use constructive diversionary tactics and in-the-moment reframing- Avoiding an issue need not be the goal of distraction. Distraction methods may really be a potent aid for those with PTSD when utilized carefully. Any method of keeping your mind engaged qualifies as a distraction tactic. It might be anything you like, such as cooking, reading, or playing a phone game.
Download our free worksheet on PTSD
Enroll in our Accredited PTSD & Trauma Therapy Online Course
- Use this PTSD Treatment Plan in Your Counseling Practice | Udemy
- PTSD & Trauma Counseling with Combination of Psychotherapy | Udemy
- Beyond Trauma: Counseling for Post Traumatic Growth | Udemy
- Overcoming Complex PTSD – CPTSD | Udemy
- EMDR Practitioner Toolbox – Treatment of Complex PTSD | Udemy
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