Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that can be triggered by experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. It’s estimated that about 7 or 8 out of every 100 people will have PTSD at some point in their lives, and it’s one of the most common mental illnesses among veterans. In this blog post, we will discuss the definition of PTSD, its symptoms, and how it can be treated.
The official definition of PTSD is “a psychiatric disorder that may occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, serious accident, terrorist incident, war/combat, rape or other violent personal assault.”
According to the National Center for PTSD, individuals with PTSD experience a variety of symptoms that fall under the following four categories:
- Intrusive thoughts (e.g., flashbacks).
- Avoidance (e.g., avoiding certain situations).
- Negative changes in thinking and mood (e.g., feeling depressed or overwhelmed).
- Changes in physical and emotional reactions (e.g., difficulty sleeping).
PTSD Definition – Signs and Symptoms
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a disabling mental health condition that can have far-reaching effects on both those with the condition and the people around them.
While not everyone exposed to trauma will develop PTSD, it is important for family members, friends, healthcare providers, employers, and anyone else who may come into contact with someone with PTSD to be aware of the signs so they can help them get the appropriate treatment.
Here are some of the signs and symptoms of PTSD:
Re-experiencing The Trauma
People suffering from PTSD experience triggers that remind them of the traumatic event that they experienced.
This can take many forms. For example hearing particular sounds or even smells that transport the individual back to a previous traumatic experience. This phenomenon is especially common in nightmares or flashbacks.
Those suffering from PTSD may also find themselves avoiding reminders of their trauma altogether as a coping mechanism. This can mean withdrawing from family and friends, reducing involvement in hobbies or activities once loved and refusing invitations to social gatherings.
This is all done in an attempt to avoid situations that could elicit uncomfortable memories or emotions related to their trauma.
Changes in Physical Health
PTSD sufferers may also experience physical health issues. This is caused by an altered physiological state which results from ever-present fear caused by the trauma itself, or continuing exposure to stressful conditions after the traumatic episode. The increased levels of stress hormones in their system can affect sleep patterns, appetite, muscle tension, and more.
People suffering from PTSD often have difficulty concentrating due to intrusive thoughts and emotions caused by the trauma they experienced. These thoughts, which can include flashbacks or nightmares, are very distressing and can make it difficult for the person to focus on their everyday tasks and activities.
PTSD Definition – Treatment
Fortunately, there are a variety of treatments available to those suffering from PTSD that can help reduce symptoms and improve overall quality of life.
The following is an overview of some the most commonly used therapies:
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is one of the most effective forms of treatment for PTSD. It focuses on changing negative thought patterns and behaviours associated with traumatic events, while providing tools to better cope with situations that may trigger a response.
CBT has been proven to be very successful in helping individuals with PTSD reduce their symptoms and gain control over their emotions.
Psychotherapy is another type of treatment for PTSD that seeks to address underlying issues related to trauma such as guilt, anger, or depression. It does this by exploring the individual’s experience of the traumatic event and helping them process their emotions in a healthy way.
This can help them gain insight into their own thoughts and feelings so they can better manage their responses when triggered by reminders of their trauma in the future.
Prolonged Exposure Therapy
Prolonged exposure therapy (PE) is another form of psychotherapy that uses repeated exposure to reminders of the traumatic event as a way to desensitize the individual so they no longer feel overwhelmed when exposed to similar triggers in real life situations.
This type of therapy also helps individuals confront their fear response head on so they can eventually move away from avoidance strategies like social withdrawal or disengagement from activities they once enjoyed before experiencing a traumatic event.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), as its name suggests, involves stimulating certain parts of the brain with eye movements while clients discuss or think about elements related to their past traumas or present difficulties due to unresolved trauma related issues.
EMDR has been found to be a helpful treatment for those suffering from PTSD because it uses eye movement therapy combined with cognitive processing techniques to break down traumatic memories into smaller, more manageable pieces. This helps the person facing PTSD better confront their fear response and move away from avoidance strategies like social withdrawal or disengagement from activities they enjoyed before experiencing trauma.
Additionally, by breaking down troubling memories into smaller parts, it can help them gain insight into their own thoughts and feelings so they can better manage their responses when triggered by reminders of their trauma in the future. It can also provide individuals with tools to cope with situations that may trigger a response, giving them back some control over the way they perceive difficult events.
Virtual Reality Therapy
Virtual reality therapy is used to provide individuals with an immersive and interactive experience that mimics real-world situations that have been traumatizing for them in the past. Through this controlled, safe environment, people are able to process their emotions without triggering their fears or anxiety on a larger scale.
During virtual reality therapy sessions, clinicians help patients learn new coping skills to better manage difficult situations while also providing support and guidance throughout the process. This can be particularly beneficial for people who feel overwhelmed or trapped by their current lifestyle due to the physical and mental limitations of PTSD.
Virtual reality therapy can help individuals gain control over their emotions and learn how to relax in difficult situations, ultimately empowering them to move forward and continue living a life free of fear and trauma-related triggers.
Medication is commonly prescribed to supplement therapy treatments for those suffering from PTSD. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as Prozac, are most commonly prescribed by psychiatrists due to their effectiveness in treating anxiety-related symptoms associated with the disorder.
These medications work by increasing neurotransmitter levels in the brain, thereby reducing feelings of uneasiness and discomfort related to trauma memories.
Your doctor might also recommend other classes of medication, such as atypical antipsychotics and mood stabilizers, depending on the severity of your symptoms and other factors.
It is important to note that all medications have potential side effects that affect everyone differently so it is important to discuss these risks with your doctor before starting any prescription medicine for PTSD. Your doctor recommend how best to pair the medication with an individualized therapy program tailored specifically to each person’s unique needs in order to get the most out of both treatments.
Other treatment options
In addition to medication, there are a variety of other treatment options available for those suffering from PTSD.
Group therapy can be a great option for connecting with others who are dealing with similar experiences, as it creates a supportive and safe space for processing feelings and sharing stories. It works with cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) to change maladaptive behaviour patterns in order to improve quality of life.
Art therapy utilizes creative expression to explore the emotions associated with traumatic memories in a non-threatening way that can help reduce stress levels and foster positive coping skills.
Yoga and mindfulness-based interventions are also popular approaches since they both focus on calming the body through mindful breathing and stretching exercises.
Animal-assisted therapy (AAT) involves interaction with trained animals in order to assist patients in both physical and mental healing by providing comfort, confidence, and companionship.
Another possible treatment is acupuncture, which reduces anxiety while releasing endorphins, increasing vital energy flow throughout the body.
Overall, it is important to remember that everyone’s experience with PTSD is different so the treatment should match each individual’s preferences and needs. A combination of different therapies such as those mentioned above may help create an effective plan of action that allows individuals a safe outlet for managing their symptoms while building resilience against future challenges.
PTSD Definition – Conclusion
Post-traumatic stress disorder is a serious mental health condition that affects millions of people around the world every year. While there is no one-size-fits-all solution for treating it, there are many available treatments that can help manage symptoms over time. If you are struggling with PTSD, seek professional help right away so you can get on the path to recovery as soon as possible.
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