Post-traumatic Stress Disorder – What Is PTSD, Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that can occur after you have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event. The event may have been violent, such an assault, or terrifying, such as a natural disaster or car accident. It can also happen after an experience that involves intense fear, helplessness, or horror, such as being held captive or witnessing someone being killed.

This condition was first recognised after World War I (1914-1918), when it was called shell shock. It was seen in soldiers who had been exposed to the horrors of battle.

Then after World War II (1939-1945), it was called combat fatigue.

The term post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) first appeared in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Third Edition (DSM-III), which was published in 1980.

PTSD is now understood to be a very real condition that can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender or nationality.

There is no single cause of PTSD.

Rather, it’s thought to be caused by a combination of factors including genetics, environment, and life experiences.

Some people may develop it after a single traumatic event, while others may experience multiple traumas over a period of time, in which case it is called Complex Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD).

Symptoms of PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychological condition caused by a traumatic event in which a person experiences extreme fear, anxiety, and/or depression that can last for months or even years.

While not everyone who goes through such an experience will develop PTSD, those who do may find it difficult to cope with current and future events due to their inability to process the trauma that occurred.

It’s important to recognize the signs and symptoms of PTSD so one can seek out help as soon as possible.

ptsd narcissistic abuse

Intrusive thoughts

Those affected by PTSD may have repeated and intrusive thoughts or flashbacks related to the traumatic event they experienced.

These flashbacks can range from vivid scenes involving sensory triggers such as smells or sounds to emotions like fear or guilt.

This can be accompanied by physical sensations such as a racing heart or tightness in the chest.

Avoidance of situations that remind you of the trauma

Someone living with PTSD may take steps to avoid situations that remind them of their trauma, whether consciously or unconsciously.

This could include places, activities, people etc., all which may trigger memories related to the incident in question.

ptsd mood swings

Changes in mood and behaviour

One’s mood may become more volatile and unpredictable due to their hypervigilant state.

In addition they might experience feelings of irritability, guilt and fearfulness which can manifest into difficulty controlling anger outbursts or reckless behaviour that might cause harm towards oneself or others around them.

Other behaviours include avoiding social interaction altogether or dissociating from reality via alcohol/drug abuse as a means of escape from one’s own thoughts/feelings

Sleep disturbances

People suffering from PTSD often experience difficulty falling asleep and/or staying asleep at night due to nightmares.

This is because they re-experience details from the traumatic event during dreams without recollection upon waking up.

As a result they struggle with daytime fatigue due to lack of sleep, which often leads to irritability during times when alertness is required such as at work or school.

If you are experiencing any of these signs it is important that you reach out for professional help so that an accurate diagnosis can be given and appropriate treatment sought out right away.

insomnia ptsd

Treatment Options for PTSD

With proper treatment, people affected by PTSD can learn to manage the symptoms, gain control over their lives, and lead a healthier life.

So what kind of treatments are available? Here’s a look at some options that are recommended by mental health professionals.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

One of the primary forms of therapy used to treat PTSD is cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).

This form of talk therapy focuses on helping people identify and challenge negative thought patterns and replace them with more positive ones.

CBT can be highly effective at minimizing PTSD symptoms and accompanying feelings such as fear, guilt, anger, shame, and sadness.

cognitive behavioral therapy

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is another common type of psychotherapy used to help people cope with intense emotional distress caused by traumatic memories or events.

During EMDR sessions, the therapist will ask the person to focus on traumatic memories while making rapid eye movements in order to reduce the intensity of their emotions associated with the event or memory.

Prolonged Exposure (PE)

Prolonged exposure (PE) is an evidence-based treatment that helps people safely confront memories of their trauma in order to reduce their fear response to it over time.

The goal is for individuals to gradually become less distressed when reminded of their trauma, allowing them to enjoy activities without being overwhelmed by flashbacks or intrusive thoughts about past experiences.

psychotherapy is an option for people suffering from ptsd

Stress Inoculation Training (SIT)

Stress inoculation training (SIT) is a type of CBT that helps people better manage stress related to traumatic events or memories by teaching them how to recognize early signs of distress and use coping strategies before becoming overwhelmed by their emotions.

By using relaxation techniques such as deep breathing exercises or progressive muscle relaxation during times of distress, individuals can better manage their reactions in stressful situations and even prevent panic attacks from occurring in some cases.

breathing techniques

Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), another form of CBT, helps individuals recognize unhealthy behaviors they may have developed after experiencing trauma such as self-harm or substance abuse.

It then provides skills training so they can instead make healthier choices when faced with difficult circumstances or strong emotions like anger or sadness that they may have been avoiding due to fear associated with PTSD symptoms like flashbacks or nightmares.

It also teaches mindfulness skills which help people stay focused on present moments without ruminating over painful past experiences or worrying about uncertain futures which could trigger additional psychological distress related to PTSD symptoms if unchecked.



In addition to psychotherapy interventions for treating PTSD there are medications that may be prescribed depending on an individual’s specific needs.

These include antidepressants like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors(SSRIs), anticonvulsants like gabapentin enacarbil (G Enacarbil), anti-anxiety medications like benzodiazepines (Xanax), antipsychotic medications like haloperidol (Haldol), mood stabilizers like lithium carbonate (Lithobid), sedatives like chlormezanone (Valium), or stimulants like methylphenidate hydrochloride (Ritalin).

These medications are not intended as standalone treatments but rather as part of comprehensive integrated care plans customized for each patient based on factors such as age, existing conditions, health risks, need for short term relief verses long term symptom management et.

Medication should always be discussed with a healthcare provider so they can properly assess the risks and benefits , tailoring their prescription to your particular needs and circumstances.

Is Medicine an Important Part of Your CPTSD Treatment

Support Groups

Mutual aid support groups provide a unique form of therapy for people with PTSD, allowing people to share their experiences, gain understanding from those who have faced similar struggles, and build a support system.

This encourages members to openly discuss their feelings without feeling judged or shamed.

In mutual aid support groups, individuals meet regularly to provide one another with empathy and understanding.

These meetings often involve activities designed to help individuals process their emotions, such as guided meditation or visualization exercises.

In addition, members are encouraged to practice different skills that could help reduce stress and anxiety associated with trauma.

Support group members also work together to try to find solutions for challenges related to PTSD, including how to better manage triggers or intrusive thoughts.

Many mutual aid support groups also offer educational programs on topics such as self-care strategies and coping skills that can help those suffering from PTSD navigate difficult times more effectively.

In many cases, these support groups can be more effective than traditional forms of therapy such as cognitive behavioural therapy or eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, as they allow people to become part of a community with similar experiences.

support group

Holistic Treatments / Complementary Therapies

Complementary therapies should be considered in combination with traditional treatments. These should not be used alone, since there has not been enough research done yet to show whether they are effective treatments for PTSD when done alone.

These include:

  • Yoga – found effective at reducing symptom severity;
  • Meditation – useful for promoting relaxation & calming anxious thoughts;
  • Physical exercise – linked with increased endorphins which improve mood;
  • Acupuncture – believed helpful for pain relief & improving sleep;
  • Nutritional counselling – dietary changes suggested included increasing foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids & decreasing caffeine intake;
  • Aromatherapy – scented oils may offer added comfort during times of distress.

Conclusion – Healing from PTSD

When it comes to treating PTSD, there is no single approach that works for everyone.

Each individual may react differently to the various treatment options and certain interventions, such as medications or holistic therapies, may be more effective for some than for others.

It’s important to seek help from healthcare providers who have experience in treating PTSD and can develop a comprehensive individualized care plan tailored to your needs.

With the right support and treatment, those living with PTSD can learn to manage their symptoms and move forward with hope towards a brighter future.

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