February 29

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Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a condition associate with mental health that occurs following a traumatic experience. In some cases, the event may include a perceived or real threat of death and injury. 

PTSD can occur after any kind of trauma. Many people associate these conditions with military personnel and war heroes, but traumatic events happen in many walks of life. You might suffer with PTSD after a car accident or a natural disaster like an earthquake or flood. 

While it’s normal to feel a sense of stress and anxiety after something scary happens, people with post-traumatic stress conditions are unable to let go of the fear that they feel. In many cases, the nervousness and panic can get worse with time, causing severe responses in circumstances where people are minded of their original trauma. 

The good news is that people with PTSD symptoms can get help. Just like other mental disorders, such as anxiety disorder and acute stress, PTSD can be managed and overcome with time and the right support. 

What is PTSD?

Post-traumatic stress disorder is what happens when any upsetting series of events leaves you emotionally shattered. This problem can occur in a variety of different ways, from acute stress disorder to complex PTSD. 

Post-traumatic stress can also affect people who personally experience a traumatic event, anyone who witnesses the event, and the people responsible for caring for people after something happens. Many emergency workers and law enforcement officers experience signs of PTSD. 

Because PTSD is an issue caused by trauma, there’s no obvious answer to the question what causes Post-traumatic Stress Disorder? Most people will feel upset, disconnected, or unbalanced after they experience something traumatizing. These are all normal reactions to abnormal experiences. 

Symptoms appear when months or years after the event has passed, you’re still fearful of what happened, having bad dreams, and struggling with other complex mental health issues. After a traumatic experience, your mind gradually begins to make sense of what happened, and your emotions start to feel more under control. However, if you have PTSD, you remain in a state of psychological shock. This indicates the need for PTSD treatment. 

What are the Symptoms of PTSD?

Because everyone’s tolerance for stress and trauma is different, PTSD symptoms can develop differently from one person to the next. In some cases, such as with combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder, you may not notice any symptoms until months or years after the event occurred. Sometimes, people diagnosed with PTSD only get symptoms when something triggers a memory. 

Though everyone can experience psychological trauma differently, four main PTSD symptoms often occur in many cases:

  • Reliving: Intense memories may make it feel as though you are re-experiencing the trauma through flashbacks, nightmares, or intense physical and mental reactions to reminders.
  • Avoidance/ Numbing: After trauma, patients may attempt to avoid anything that reminds them of the bad experience. Some people can’t remember any specific aspects of the ordeal, and they may lose interest in the activities they used to enjoy. 
  • Hyperarousal: The national post-traumatic stress center also recognizes hyperarousal in criteria for PTSD. This includes being unable to sleep, being overly irritable, or constantly feeling on alert. Some people have angry outbursts or might turn to destructive behavior like substance abuse. 
  • Negative mood: It’s common for therapists treating PTSD to also treat feelings of depression and low mood. You might have difficulty concentrating or feelings of hopelessness, mistrust, and even shame or self-blame. 

Risk Factors

It’s impossible to know for sure who will experience post-traumatic stress symptoms, or what the cause of their trauma might be. Any situation that a person considers to be traumatic may cause PTSD, including violent assault, childbirth, and serious health problems. 

While it’s difficult to know who will need specialized treatment after an upsetting event, some risk factors can increase your vulnerability. For instance, traumatic events are more likely to cause it when there is a threat to your life. This is often why people define combat PTSD as a common example of a mental issue caused by trauma. 

The National Center for PTSD define prevalent risk factors as including:

How long does PTSD last?

The good news for any person with symptoms of PTSD is that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Even if you have every symptom associated with this condition, from anxiety rash to nightmares, you can still get help. The critical thing to remember is that several treatments provide long-term relief.

There’s no overnight cure that will suddenly get rid of your trauma. However, there are many kinds of treatment that can help you to address your fear over time. Standard options for therapy include:

  • Exposure therapy: Prolonged exposure therapy involves gradually exposing yourself to the things that you find threatening in a controlled and safe way. Your therapist will start by helping to identify the cause of your trauma, and you’ll look for ways to overcome your worries slowly. 
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy: CBT is a common behavioral therapy for people with trauma, anxiety, and other mental health issues. This involves helping you to find ways of coping with your fears and triggers so that you can live a more comfortable life. 
  • Stellate Ganglion Block PTSD treatment: This involves addressing a particular part of the brain that activates your fear response. 
  • Medications: Some doctors will support the treatment with medication. The medication won’t eliminate your memories, but it can help with side-effects of PTSD, like anxiety and depression. 

Getting treatment

The prevalence of PTSD in the modern world means that the statistical manual for treating this condition is constantly evolving. Treatment of PTSD can include everything from talking therapies to medications. The key to success is getting an accurate PTSD diagnosis and working with the right mental health professional. 

After a PTSD test, a professional can determine if you have complex PTSD or CPTSD, or whether you just need help dealing with intrusive thoughts. Children with PTSD can also require different kinds of treatment to adults. A professional therapist can help you to understand why the development of PTSD happens. Additionally, professionals can also provide help on how to regain control of your thoughts and worries. 

Getting to the bottom of your traumatic event and your trauma definition will give you the tools that you need to overcome symptoms of stress, anxiety, and discomfort. You can overcome PTSD with the right help.