What can you think of, that can develop at any age, and can include war veterans, children, and people who have been through trauma (physical or sexual assault, abuse, accident, disaster, and other serious events)? The answer is, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD is a disorder that develops in people who have experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous event. Roughly 7 or 8 out of every 100 people will experience PTSD. Some people may even develop it indirectly, meaning that they may develop PTSD after a family or friend experiences danger.
Those who are more likely to experience this are those who get hurt, experience childhood trauma, have little or no social support, a history of mental health issues and many more. There are signs and symptoms to tell when you or a loved one may be experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder. These symptoms, though ongoing for at least a month, may include the following:
~ at least 1 re-experiencing symptom ~ at least 1 avoidance symptom
~ at least 2 reactivity symptoms ~ at least 2 cognitive/mood symptoms
Re-experiencing symptoms can include flashbacks, bad dreams, frightening thoughts. These symptoms cause problems in the everyday routine. Then, there are avoidance symptoms, which include: staying away from certain places, avoiding thoughts or feelings that are related to the traumatic event. These symptoms trigger the person to remember the event constantly. Next, the reactivity symptoms would include being easily startled, feeling tense or on edge, difficulty sleeping and angry outbursts. Most of these symptoms are usually constant and make it hard to do daily life tasks. Lastly, cognitive and mood symptoms would include trouble remembering certain details of the event, negative thoughts about oneself, distorted feelings of guilt or blame and loss of interest in enjoyable activities. Particularly, these symptoms can begin or worsen after the event. These are not due to injury or substance abuse.
Like many other mental health disorders, there are treatments to help cope. To help control emotions like anger, sadness, worry and numbness, medications can be used. Another treatment is psychotherapy. This is also known as talk therapy. This type of therapy normally lasts about 6 to 12 weeks. There are two types of psychotherapy, exposure therapy and cognitive reconstructive. Exposure therapy helps the person face and control their fears. Whereas cognitive reconstruction makes sense of bad memories and helps the person look at the event in a realistic way.
If you or a loved one are experiencing signs/symptoms of PTSD, you are not alone! Call 1-800-273-8255 and press 1 for the PTSD Crisis Hotline!