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

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

4 min read


PTSD is a mental health condition where the person undergoes an extremely stressful condition and develops disturbing thoughts or emotions.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Sowmiya D

Published At March 31, 2018
Reviewed AtMarch 25, 2024

What Is Post-traumatic Stress Disorder?

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a type of anxiety disorder. It is triggered after encountering traumatic events in one's life. However, not everyone who undergoes a negative experience and stress has PTSD. Also, it may resolve by itself in some with the help of one's natural coping mechanism. In others, it can continue for a month, causing more struggles. Women are more affected than men.

What Are the Causes of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder?

The causes of post-traumatic stress disorder are as follows:

  • Physical, verbal, or sexual abuse.

  • Emotional stress.

  • Direct and indirect exposure to trauma. Direct exposure, such as terrorism, physical and sexual assault, accidents, natural disasters, and life-threatening medical emergencies may trigger the condition. Indirect exposure to trauma and sudden death of loved ones may lead to the development of the condition.

  • Severe and more life-threatening traumatic events are more likely to result in PTSD.

  • Limited social support.

  • Alterations in brain structure.

What Are the Risk Factors of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder?

The risk factors of post-traumatic stress disorder are as follows:

  • Undergoing severe emotional trauma.

  • A person who is already under depression or anxiety.

  • A familial tendency for mental health issues.

  • History of assault or abuse during the early years.

  • Existing mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression.

  • Seeing first-hand someone dying.

  • Resorting to alcohol or drug abuse to cope with trauma.

  • Not having a support system to fall back on.

  • Some people are more prone to personality disorders because of the different ways of functioning of the brain.

What Are the Symptoms of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder?

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

Type I - Intrusive Thoughts:

Having repeated and uncontrollable memories of the past unpleasant episode (flashback).

  • Nightmares relating to the trauma experienced before.

  • They were being fearful most of the time.

  • Being reminded of the bitter experience as a response to other triggers.

Type II - Avoidance:

  • Avoiding or trying to avoid thoughts about the event as a self-copying mechanism.

  • Abstaining from situations, people, or things they relate to the distressful situation.

Type III - Mood Changes:

  • Constant negative thoughts.

  • A cynical and pessimistic outlook on the world and people.

  • Misplaced anger.

  • The feeling of hopelessness.

  • Lack of interest in activities previously enjoyed.

  • Emotional numbness.

  • Feeling shameful and guilty.

Type IV - Arousal:

  • Easily shocked.

  • Being alert always (perceiving a non-existing danger).

  • Trouble falling asleep.

  • Feeling difficult to focus.

  • Loss of concentration.

  • Reckless and self-harming behavior.

  • Extremely aggressive.

  • Explosive anger outbursts.

How Is Post-traumatic Stress Disorder Diagnosed?

The mental health professional may ask the patient about previous medical history, trauma, and symptoms. Psychologists and psychiatrists follow the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5) to assess the patient's condition. They categorize the patient into different types and then formulate the treatment plan.

Why Living in the Past Can Be Bad?

Living both in the past and future is not good for mental health. Re-thinking too much about past events can lead to obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Too much dreaming about the future can make a person lose the ability to live in the present moment. This might create a small degree of anxiety. It is always healthy to forget the bad events in the past and live each day like a new one.

What Is Misplaced Anger and How Bad It Could Be?

Misplaced anger is the expression of rage showered on someone or something else when the person or object is not the reason. The person who accepts the anger outburst from the other side might develop a victim mentality. This happens especially in post-traumatic stress disorder. The person might have dumped lots of negative thoughts and emotions, which get expressed impulsively someday.

What Are the Most Common Traumatic Conditions?

The most common traumatic conditions are described below:

  • Living in abusive environments and relationships.

  • First-hand exposure to war, combat, or mortal danger.

  • Natural calamities such as floods, fires, etc.

  • Being a victim of sexual abuse, assault, or rape.

  • Experiencing terrorist attacks at close range.

  • Sudden loss of a loved one.

  • Early childhood trauma or abuse.

  • Being in or witnessing a major road accident or plane crash.

What Are the Complications of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder?

The complications of post-traumatic stress disorder are as follows:

  • PTSD can mess up the victim's health.

  • It can ruin relationships with family and friends.

  • It can lead to isolation and a lack of social life as peers fail to understand their reactions.

  • This can cause trouble in keeping a steady job.

  • It also increases the risk of other mental illnesses.

  • Suicidal thoughts.

What Is the Treatment of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder?

1. Monitoring: In the initial days, watch without starting official treatment to observe if symptoms subside on their own.

2. Mental and Emotional Release Therapy (MER): It helps people take away stressful emotions. These massages are known to make a person cry during the massage session. This might reduce the emotional load to a great extent.

  • Seeking support from friends, family, support groups, and faith healing in the community. Faith healing can be done by religious prayers.

  • Psychotherapy, includes cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), group therapy, and alternative therapy.

3. Medications: Medications such as antidepressants may be prescribed and used as an adjunct to therapy.

When to See a Doctor in Case of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder?

Constantly recalling the horrifying experience after going through one is a natural human tendency. But, it is not normal for a person to have prolonged distress. These are the conditions that should be considered seriously.

  • When stress persists for weeks to months afterward.

  • Affecting daily routine and social life.

  • Causing behavioral changes.

  • Causing other health issues.

  • Leading to drug dependence and alcohol dependence.

Sharing mental worries will not be comfortable sometimes. If a person is experiencing suicidal thoughts or any other issues, call a doctor online.


Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is considered to be a positive factor in one way as it helps to cope with stressful past events. When the event happens again, the person may be able to cope up with the distress. There will be increased amounts of adrenaline, which helps to lessen the level of distress. With proper treatment and support, individuals with PTSD can experience symptomatic relief and improve their functioning. Overgoing monitoring is essential to ensure appropriate support and care

Frequently Asked Questions


How Long Does PTSD Last For?

In some patients where PTSD is left untreated, the symptoms can last for a very long time. Most of the people with longstanding PTSD come to know that the symptoms of PTSD are highly unstable. The PTSD symptoms gradually go away in some patients over time. The symptoms might recur when traumatic events occur.


What Are the Trigger Factors For PTSD?

Triggers can be different for each individual. They might be sights, sounds, smells, and thoughts. Continuous exposure to these triggers might remind the person of the traumatic event. Some of the PTSD triggers are very clear and obvious.


Is PTSD a Mental Illness?

PTSD is a mental disorder. It involves repeated exposure to trauma. Traumatic events might involve death or accidents, sexual abuse, etc. Traumatic events can cause a lot of distress to the person and lead them to depression.


Do Kids React Differently Than Adults?

Children and teenage people have extreme reactions to trauma. The symptoms might vary in children and adults.
- Bedwetting while sleeping.
- Unable to communicate.
- Remaining clingy with a parent or other adults.


Does PTSD Make You Feel Crazy?

Adults with PTSD can sometimes feel and behave uncontrollably. They tend to go crazy following a traumatic incident. PTSD is a completely treatable disorder. You might require help from a psychologist or psychiatrist to recover soon.


What Does a PTSD Attack Feel Like?

The condition of PTSD includes panic attacks, depression, and sleep disturbances. The repetitive and annoying thoughts can put the person into further distress. The patient wishes to forget a few life-changing events. Acceptance therapy might be required for these patients.


What Is the Best Therapy For PTSD?

There are three types of psychological therapies for treating patients with PTSD.
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a therapy that is highly recommended for PTSD patients.
- Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)
- Group therapy. This will help you interact with many others so that you will not feel bad like you are the only one who is suffering.


Can You Test PTSD on a Brain Scan?

There is no proper evidence to show PTSD can be diagnosed by a brain scan. Extensive research is in the process regarding the diagnosis using scan procedures. In the last ten years, more studies have been conducted on PTSD.


How PTSD Is Diagnosed?

A doctor who has experience in handling mental illness patients, such as a psychiatrist or psychologist, will be able to diagnose PTSD. The diagnosis is made according to the diagnosis and statistical manual (DSM). A psychometric test might be required in a few cases. With these tests, the severity of the condition can be determined.


What Are the Different Types of PTSD?

There are five types of post-traumatic stress disorder. They are:
- Normal stress response.
- Acute stress disorder.
- Uncomplicated PTSD.
- Comorbid PTSD.
- Complex PTSD.
Dr. Vasantha. K. S
Dr. Vasantha. K. S



mental health
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