PTSD simply means Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Consider this scenario; when Anna was in her last year at high school, she lost her father to a tragic train accident.
As she was very close to her dad, it was a very traumatising event for her.
Years after the incident, Anna still finds it hard to board the train to her place of work. She prefers to hop on a bus or board a taxi; this is because she still experiences anxiety anytime she tries boarding a train.
PTSD is a medical condition that occurs after someone has encountered a painful physical, mental, or emotional shocking event. This usually occurs months or years after the event happened.
Events like the loss of a loved one, being in a ghastly accident, rape, and being in war zones are just the tip of the iceberg of situations that can make an individual have PTSD.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder rears its head in when the individual can’t partake in certain activities because they are reminders of the experience which can cause anxiety, shock, anger, and panic attacks.
This situation calls for concern and leads to PTSD when these symptoms prevent the individual from living life to the fullest. PTSD is not diagnosed until a month after the incident.
Although PTSD was first noticed in war veterans after World War I and World War II, anyone can suffer from it.
Just like some children take the first steps of their life before 12 months while others take these steps at 14 months, the symptoms of PTSD though similar in people occur at different durations in the patient’s life.
Symptoms can show within the first 3 months and as late as over a year in the patient’s life. Some symptoms include
- Evasion: Individuals that suffer from PTSD usually avoid people, events, and places that remind them of their incident. They also shy away from talking about it.
- Variations in physical and emotional reaction: Think of a child who is very confident but now has stage fright after the death of a sibling or a calm and bubbly adult who now has difficulty being in a social gathering. These are some of the physical and emotional changes noted in people with PTSD, others include; heightened feelings of guilt, insomnia, and nightmares (mostly in children).
- Negative Thinking: You will notice withdrawal tendencies, a lack of interest in activities they usually enjoy, an inability to show positive emotions, and a laissez-affaire attitude when you are friends with someone suffering from PTSD. This is because their thought process is overwhelmed with negative thoughts which have changed how they see life.
- Recurring Traumatic Memories: The minds of patients with PTSD usually replay the events that lead to the diagnosis continuously. This can also make the individual experience nightmares which may amplify the incident.
- Suicidal Thoughts: Suicidal thoughts usually happen in patients with extreme cases of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This is why it is beneficial to see a professional at the onset of the diagnosis.
Different methods exist for the treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder based on the symptoms and the severity of the condition.
- Prescription: This method of treatment is not usually the first choice when treating patients with PTSD and it involves the use of medication to control the symptoms. Drugs that help combat depression, anxiety, insomnia, and physical turmoil are administered by healthcare professionals.
- Psychotherapy: This is the recommended and most used method of treating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It involves the use of Cognitive Processing Therapy, Prolonged Exposure Therapy, and Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioural Therapy which focuses on revising emotions such as guilt, helping the person gain control of the traumatic experience. These techniques can be used on children and adolescents respectively.
- Alternative Therapy: These are other forms of therapy such as yoga and other methods outside of the medical field that help patients with PTSD.
- Group Therapy: This occurs when individuals suffering from PTSD come together to offer moral, emotional, and physical support to themselves.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is experienced by a low percentage of the world’s population. Nevertheless, individuals suffering from it should be treated with the utmost care and support from family and friends.