PTSD – What It Is, Symptoms, and Treatments
PTSD or Posttraumatic Stress Syndrome is a mental health condition that develops in people after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event during their lives. Traumatic events may include serious injury, sexual assault, death of a loved one, living during times of war, natural disaster, etc. An individual suffering from PTSD experiences extreme fear, disturbing thoughts, and flashbacks related to the traumatic event.
PTSD has long been correlated with combatants of war. It was known by different names like battle fatigue, shell shock, and combat stress reaction during the times of WWI and WWII. However, it was much later discovered that the psychiatric reaction to trauma is not only restricted to war. Anyone can suffer from PTSD at any age.
When we witness or experience a traumatic event, our brain responds to the danger with some split-second changes that help us fight the fear and protect ourselves. Many people develop initial symptoms of PTSD and recover from them with time and support from their loved ones. However, that is not the case with all of them. In some cases, the symptoms are more prominent, which results in developing Chronic PTSD.
Symptoms of PTSD
PTSD symptoms are categorized into four broad categories including:
People who suffer from PTSD often go through intrusive thoughts like repeated images of the incident, nightmares, overthinking, and flashbacks of the event. They sometimes even feel like the traumatic event is happening again. However, these are the hallucinations from the trauma.
People also avoid talking about things related to the traumatic event. For example, they might avoid talking to related people, avoid going to places, and avoid the things that remind them about the event.
3. Alterations in arousal and reactivity
In this type, the person who suffers from PTSD finds it arduous to concentrate, faces sleep-related problems, gets angry outbursts, develops self-destructive behavior, feels irritated constantly, and is overly conscious of his/her surroundings.
4. Mood and Cognition Alterations
The symptoms include negative thoughts, lack of self-confidence, fear, horror, guilt, shame, forgetfulness, detachment, anxiety, depression, feeling irritated, mood swings, etc.
As people are getting more concerned about mental health conditions, the pathology and treatments concerning the diseases are evolving and advancing rapidly. Not everyone suffering from PTSD might require treatment, as in some cases, people recover from the symptoms of trauma with time. Support from friends, families and loved ones also helps combat the disease and its symptoms. Nevertheless, the advancement of psychiatry has various treatments that have proved to be effective:
1. CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy)
Known as one of the most effective treatments, it helps regulate the negative emotions of patients and modify them into positive thoughts. This treatment is commonly known among people as Talk Therapy. Through the treatment, therapists help patients confront their trauma.
2. Group Therapy
As the name suggests, it takes place in groups. Usually, patients avoid talking about their trauma to people, which leads to untreated trauma and worsening symptoms. Through Group Therapy, patients can share and converse with patients in an understandable environment.
3. Stress Inoculation Therapy
In this treatment, doctors support patients to develop skills that can help them fight their traumatic triggers.
4. EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing)
EMDR focuses on reliving the trauma and processing it. Therapists focus on making their patients re-live their trauma by reimagining and rethinking it and noticing how their body reacts to the triggers. Virtual reality programs are also fruitful during EMDR therapy.
5. Psychodynamic Therapy
Psychodynamic Therapy aims at helping patients with PTSD regain their self-esteem and confidence. The prime focus of the therapy is to hit the cause of the trauma and treat it. It also allows patients to develop positive thoughts. It is somewhat similar to Talk Therapy.
Apart from the above-mentioned types of treatments, doctors also take the help of medication to treat PTSD. If your symptoms are obstructing your lifestyle, you must take professional help.