Mental Health – Understanding Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

The following article will give you a broad overview of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This is a significant mental disorder which is often misunderstood if observed in people, as it can occur at a timely distance from the original event.

What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?

PTSD is experienced as helplessness, horror and/or intense fear in days, weeks, months or years after a traumatic event, for example like domestic violence, abuse, rape, robbery, assault, war or an accident.

PTSD is part of the Anxiety Disorders.

Symptoms of PTSD

PTSD can occur sometimes when a person is witnessing the trauma of another person, in specific a friend or relative. As the traumatic events usually involve threat to the person’s life or past physical harm the symptoms can include flashbacks, nightmares, hyper alertness or increased sensitivity to certain triggers or persons, edginess, avoidance of anything that may result in a memory of or the feeling from the original traumatic experience. People experiencing PTSD are often feeling emotionally numb and will often appear impersonal and distant.

In addition to that these people will find it difficult to trust others or feel safe. Physical symptoms may be changes in breathing, sweating, disturbed sleep patterns and having trouble concentrating which can affect their performance.

Many people recovering from PTSD will abuse alcohol, nicotine and other drugs, which can cause further problems and potentially lead to other psychiatric illnesses.

Treatment options

Immediate interventions need to involve counselling or therapy to help these people deal with the trauma. If immediate steps have been taken in form of one-on-one support it is possible to avoid long-term problems.

Therapeutic treatment may include basic counselling, cognitive behavior therapy and group work. The aim of therapy is to deal with the memories of the traumatic event, without being overwhelmed by it.

Medication, such as anti-depressants, anxiety medication and/or sleep medication may assist the person to cope with symptoms while other treatments are starting to have an effect and they get some control back over their thoughts, feelings and behaviors.

Group therapy can be extremely beneficial to help these people regain social confidence from a point in time where they might have isolated themselves to be able to cope.

Family members and how they can support

The fear of the person suffering from PTSD may affect their willingness to seek treatment. It is important for family members to offer support but not pity and acknowledge their experience of the traumatic event as having major implications on their life.

Remember: If you’re concerned that your loved one is dealing with PTSD seek external support and get them checked out by a medical professional.

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