Emotional and Mental Health

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Reliving the Trauma

Written by Dr. Vasantha K S and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.

 
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Contents


Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a type of anxiety disorder, which is triggered after encountering traumatic events in one's life. However, not everyone who undergoes a negative experience has PTSD. Also, it may settle by itself in some with the help of one's natural coping mechanism. In others, it can stay on and continue to cause more struggles.

Symptoms:

Symptoms may start soon after the traumatic event. So, it is important to wait for four weeks to observe if symptoms subside by themselves. The symptoms can be classified into four characteristic types. The intensity of each varies in every individual depending on the type and extent of the trauma endured.

Type I - Intrusive Thoughts:

  • Having repeated uncontrollable memories of the episode (flashback).
  • Nightmares relating to the trauma experienced.
  • Being always fearful.
  • Being reminded of the bitter experience as a response to other triggers.

Type II - Avoidance:

  • Avoiding or trying to avoid thoughts about the event.
  • Abstaining from situations, people or things they relate to the event.

Type III - Mood Changes:

  • Constant negative thoughts.
  • A cynical outlook on the world and people.
  • Misplaced anger.
  • Feeling of hopelessness.
  • Lack of interest in activities previously enjoyed.
  • Emotional numbness.
  • Feeling shameful and guilty.

Type IV - Arousal:

  • Easily startled.
  • Being alert always (perceiving a non-existing danger).
  • Trouble falling asleep.
  • A difficulty with focus and concentration.
  • Reckless and self-harming behavior.
  • Overly aggressive.
  • Explosive anger outbursts.

Risk Factors:

  1. Undergoing severe emotional trauma.
  2. A familial tendency for mental health issues.
  3. History of assault or abuse during the early years.
  4. Existing mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression.
  5. Seeing first-hand someone dying.
  6. Resorting to alcohol or drug abuse to cope with trauma.
  7. Not having a support system to fall back on.
  8. Some types of personalities are more prone to mental health disorders due to the way their body responds to stress.

Common Trauma:

  1. Living in abusive environments.
  2. First-hand exposure to war, combat or mortal danger.
  3. Natural calamities such as flood, fire, etc.
  4. Being a victim of sexual abuse, assault or rape.
  5. Experiencing terrorist attacks at close range.
  6. Sudden loss of a loved one.
  7. Early childhood trauma or abuse.
  8. Being in or witnessing a major road accident or plane crash.

Complications:

  1. PTSD can mess up the victim's health.
  2. It can ruin relationships with family and friends.
  3. It can lead to isolation and lack of social life as peers fail to understand their reactions.
  4. This can cause trouble keeping a steady job.
  5. It also increases the risk of other mental illnesses and suicidal thoughts.

Treatment:

  1. Monitoring: In the initial days, watching without starting official treatment to observe if symptoms subside on their own.
  2. Seeking support from friends, family, support groups, and faith healing in the community.
  3. Psychotherapy including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), group therapy, and alternative therapy.
  4. Medications such as antidepressants and others may be prescribed and used in adjunct to therapy.

When to See a Doctor?

Constantly recalling the horrifying experience after going through one, is a natural human tendency. But, it is not normal for the behavior changes to linger on for a long time afterward. See a doctor if it:

  • Persists for weeks to months afterward.
  • Affects daily routine and social life.
  • Causes behavioral changes.
  • Causes other health issues.
  • Leads to drug dependence.

For more information consult an anxiety disorders counseling specialist online --> https://www.icliniq.com/ask-a-doctor-online/psychologist-counsellor/anxiety-disorders-counseling

Last reviewed at: 13.Dec.2018

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