Caught in a long conflict -we ought to know about PTSD
PTSD is a disorder that develops in some people who have experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous event. It is natural to feel afraid during and after a traumatic situation. Fear triggers many split-second changes in the body to help defend against danger or to avoid it. This “fight-or-flight” response is a typical reaction meant to protect a person from harm. Nearly everyone will experience a range of reactions after trauma, yet most people recover from initial symptoms naturally. Those who continue to experience problems may be diagnosed with PTSD. People who have PTSD may feel stressed or frightened even when they are not in danger.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
Symptoms usually begin early, within 3 months of the traumatic incident, but sometimes they begin years afterward. Symptoms must last more than a month and be severe enough to interfere with relationships or work to be considered PTSD. The course of the illness varies. Some people recover within 6 months, while others have symptoms that last much longer. In some people, the condition becomes chronic.
- Re-experiencing symptoms include:
➡Flashbacks—reliving the trauma over and over, including physical symptoms like a racing heart or sweating
Re-experiencing symptoms may cause problems in a person’s everyday routine. The symptoms can start from the person’s own thoughts and feelings. Words, objects, or situations that are reminders of the event can also trigger re-experiencing symptoms.
2: Avoidance symptoms include:
➡Staying away from places, events, or objects that are reminders of the traumatic experience
➡Avoiding thoughts or feelings related to the traumatic event
Things that remind a person of the traumatic event can trigger avoidance symptoms. These symptoms may cause a person to change his or her personal routine. For example, after a bad car accident, a person who usually drives may avoid driving or riding in a car.
3: Arousal and reactivity symptoms include:
➡Being easily startled
➡Feeling tense or “on edge”
➡Having difficulty sleeping
➡Having angry outbursts
Arousal symptoms are usually constant, instead of being triggered by things that remind one of the traumatic events. These symptoms can make the person feel stressed and angry. They may make it hard to do daily tasks, such as sleeping, eating, or concentrating.
4-Cognition and mood symptoms include:
➡Trouble remembering key features of the traumatic event
➡Negative thoughts about oneself or the world
➡Distorted feelings like guilt or blame
➡Loss of interest in enjoyable activities
Cognition and mood symptoms can begin or worsen after the traumatic event, but are not due to injury or substance use. These symptoms can make the person feel alienated or detached from friends or family members.
Do children react differently than adults?
Children and teens can have extreme reactions to trauma, but their symptoms may not be the same as adults. In very young children (less than 6 years of age), these symptoms can include:
➡Wetting the bed after having learned to use the toilet
➡Forgetting how to or being unable to talk
➡Acting out the scary event during playtime
➡Being unusually clingy with a parent or other adult
➡Older children and teens are more likely to show symptoms similar to those seen in adults. They may also develop disruptive, disrespectful, or destructive behaviors. Older children and teens may feel guilty for not preventing injury or deaths. They may also have thoughts of revenge.
To be diagnosed with PTSD, an adult must have all of the following for at least 1 month:
➡At least one re-experiencing symptom
➡At least one avoidance symptom
➡At least two arousal and reactivity symptoms
➡At least two cognition and mood symptoms.
RISK FACTORS AND RESILIENCE FACTORS FOR PTSD
Some factors that increase risk for PTSD include:
➡Living through dangerous events and traumas
➡Seeing another person hurt, or seeing a dead body
➡Feeling horror, helplessness, or extreme fear
➡Having little or no social support after the event
➡Dealing with extra stress after the event, such as loss of a loved one, pain and injury, or loss of a job or home
➡Having a history of mental illness or substance abuse
Some resilience factors that may reduce the risk of PTSD include:
➡Seeking out support from other people, such as friends and family
➡Finding a support group after a traumatic event
➡Learning to feel good about one’s own actions in the face of danger
➡Having a positive coping strategy, or a way of getting through the bad event and learning from it
➡Being able to act and respond effectively despite feeling fear
TREATMENTS AND THERAPIES
The main treatments for people with PTSD are medications, psychotherapy (“talk” therapy), or both. Everyone is different, and PTSD affects people differently so a treatment that works for one person may not work for another. It is important for anyone with PTSD to be treated by a mental health provider who is experienced with PTSD.
The most studied medications for treating PTSD include antidepressants, which may help control PTSD symptoms such as sadness, worry, anger, and feeling numb inside. Antidepressants and other medications may be prescribed along with psychotherapy. Other medications may be helpful for specific PTSD symptoms. For example, although it is not currently FDA approved, research has shown that Prazosin may be helpful with sleep problems, particularly nightmares, commonly experienced by people with PTSD.
Psychotherapy (sometimes called “talk therapy”) involves talking with a mental health professional to treat a mental illness. Psychotherapy can occur one-on-one or in a group. Talk therapy treatment for PTSD usually lasts 6 to 12 weeks, but it can last longer. Research shows that support from family and friends can be an important part of recovery.
Many types of psychotherapy can help people with PTSD. Some types target the symptoms of PTSD directly. Other therapies focus on social, family, or job-related problems. The doctor or therapist may combine different therapies depending on each person’s needs.
Effective psychotherapies tend to emphasize a few key components, including education about symptoms, teaching skills to help identify the triggers of symptoms, and skills to manage the symptoms. One helpful form of therapy is called cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT. CBT can include:
➡Exposure therapy: This helps people face and control their fear. It gradually exposes them to the trauma they experienced in a safe way. It uses imagining, writing, or visiting the place where the event happened. The therapist uses these tools to help people with PTSD cope with their feelings.
➡Cognitive restructuring: This helps people make sense of the bad memories. Sometimes people remember the event differently than how it happened. They may feel guilt or shame about something that is not their fault. The therapist helps people with PTSD look at what happened in a realistic way.
BEYOND TREATMENT: How can I help myself?
It may be very hard to take that first step to help yourself. It is important to realize that although it may take some time, with treatment, you can get better. If you are unsure where to go for help, ask your family doctor. To help yourself while in treatment:
➡Talk with your doctor about treatment options
➡Engage in mild physical activity or exercise to help reduce stress
➡Set realistic goals for yourself
➡Break up large tasks into small ones, set some priorities, and do what you can as you can
➡Try to spend time with other people, and confide in a trusted friend or relative. Tell others about things that may trigger symptoms.
➡Expect your symptoms to improve gradually, not immediately
➡Identify and seek out comforting situations, places, and people.
Note : The author claims to have made a full course titled “Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)” that is published online on Unacademy website