It was once known as ‘shell shock’ in WW I and ‘combat fatigue’ in WW II. It is a mental health disorder that occurs in individuals who have gone through or witnessed traumatic events. PTSD symptoms are characterized by nightmares, severe anxiety, and flashbacks, or uncontrollable thoughts about the traumatizing events.
Most of the individuals who go through the traumatic events may have difficulties in coping in the initial days but with good self-care and support, they get better with time. However, if the symptoms fail to get better with time, let’s say in months and interferes with your daily normal life, then you may be developing PTSD and you should seek effective treatment to manage the symptoms.
What Are The Symptoms Of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?
Symptoms of PTSD vary in severity from one individual to the other. In some people they might show a few weeks after the traumatic experience while in others it may take months or several years to appear after the event. These symptoms cause variance and significant difficulties in day to day normal activities, work, social, and well as family relations. In work case scenarios, they interfere with your normal daily life.
The symptoms of PTSD are grouped into four categories;
- The avoidance
- Intrusive memories
- Negative changes in mood and thinking
- Changes in emotional and physical reactions
In this stage, you may;
- Try as much as possible to avoid thinking or discussing the traumatic events
- Avoiding activities, people, objects and places that remind you of the traumatizing events
In the intrusive memories stage, you may;
- Have recurrent and unwanted memories of the traumatizing events
- Experience nightmares or distressing dreams about the traumatizing events
- Have flashbacks of the traumatizing events
- Physical reactions and emotional anguish to things or people that remind you of the traumatizing events
Negative Changes In Mood And Thinking
In this stage, symptoms may include;
- The feelings of hopelessness about the future
- Deprived memory capabilities and mostly remembers more of the traumatic events
- Trust issues on other people and the life events
- Negative thoughts about yourself and other people
- Difficulties in keeping close relations
- Emotional numbness
- Lack of the ability to enjoy the present or live the present moment
- Drastic lose of interest in things that you once enjoyed doing
- The feeling of being disconnected from family and friends
- Feeling emotionless
- Difficulties in feeling positive vibes
Changes In Emotional And Physical Reactions
- These are also known as arousal symptoms and marked by symptoms change from physical to emotional. They may include;
- Cognitive such as challenges in concentrating
- Overwhelming shame and at times guilt
- Difficulties in sleeping
- Being effortlessly frightened
- Angry outbursts, irritability, and aggressiveness
- Self-harming behaviors such as alcohol and substance abuse
- Always being on watch for the threat
However, in younger children (often 6 years and below), symptoms may also include;
- Constant nightmares that may not include the actual traumatizing events
- Acting out the traumatizing events or showing the aspects of the traumatic events through play
Causes Of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
You can develop PTSD when;
- you experience, go through, learn about, or get involved in a horrific incident that is life-threatening, got seriously injured, or sexual violations.
- Some people develop PTSD symptoms while others do not after these experiences. There is no clear scientific research to explain this. However, like most mental health disorders, PTSD is attributed by a mix of:
- Past stressful experiences which depend on the severity and the amount of exposure to these experiences in your life
- Temperament or inherited personality features
- Your brain response to stress and how it regulates hormones and chemicals relating to stress management
- History of mental risks such as anxiety or depression
Types Of Traumatic Events
- Sexual violence
- Physical assaults
- Combat exposure
- A fatal accident
- Physical abuse in childhood
Other traumatic events can also lead to PTSD such as natural disasters, terrorist attacks, torture, chronic medical diagnosis, fire, robbery among others
Complications of PTSD
Most PTSD if it goes untreated can disorient your whole life costing you your job, relationships, or the ability to drive a happy normal life. It may increase you’re the development of mental conditions such as:
- Eating disorders
- Suicidal and self-harming thoughts
- Alcohol and substance use disorder
Prevention Of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
In most cases after surviving a traumatic event, most of us end up experiencing PTSD- like signs and symptoms and we cannot help to stop thinking of the event. Anger, fear, guilt, anxiety, depression; which is very normal as are reactions to trauma. However, not all people exposed to traumatic events end up developing post-traumatic stress disorder.
However, when you develop these symptoms, it is wise to seek help. Turn to trusted friends and family who will lend your ears and comfort you.
You can also schedule a short course therapy session with a health professional.
If you are spiritual or have a faith that you follow, it may be helpful to join up a faith community.
Support may help you in PTSD management.