Post traumatic stress disorder – there is hope!

What is post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)?

Many people experience various mental and physical traumas throughout the lifetime. Involvement in emotionally and /or physically traumatic events (military service, death of a loved one, being a victim of a violence, etc.) leads to the reaction of physical and mental shock. This reaction is normal and helps to survive in the situations of stress. For example, a person has reduced sensitivity to a pain (physical response), which helps to bear a severe pain, or the emotional atrophy appears (mental reaction), which helps to keep going faster, without showing a strong emotional reaction in response to the heated situation.

After the shock is gone, a person gradually returns to the normal emotional state. The past mental or physical trauma loses its significance and does not seem to affect victim’s life. However, all previous psychological and physical injuries always leave a painful mark in one’s mind for a long time (sometimes forever, at least until a person can treat and discharge them), violate the inner peace and lead to a condition called post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Please note, that not only the direct victims of traumatic situations can develop this emotional disorder. People, who witnessed act of violence, natural or social disasters or catastrophes, also have a risk of PTSD development.

What kind of traumatic events may become the cause of PTSD?

Traumatic events which often lead to the development of post traumatic stress disorder may include:

  • War
  • Terrorist attacks (for example, being a hostage)
  • Various natural disasters
  • Car accidents/plane crashes
  • Physical violence (rape, beating)
  • Serious medical procedure (surgery and etc.), which is typical for children.

Any event representing a real threat to life and health, that was the initial cause of the state of a strong emotional or physical shock, can lead to PTSD.

What are the most common symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)?

The most frequent symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder can be divided into 4 groups:

The reinstatement of the traumatic event:

  • Obsessive memories of the experienced traumatic event;
  • “Flashbacks” – moments when a person experiences the intense sensations and emotions as if the traumatic event is back once again;
  • Nightmares (usually about the traumatic event itself, as well as other frightening things);
  • Different kinds of psychological distress (fear, stress, depression) and/or physical discomfort (increased heart rate, shortness of breath, nausea, sweating) which appear when person remembers the traumatic event.

The symptoms of avoidance:

  • Person tries to avoid the activities, situations and people that can remind him about the traumatic event;
  • A person cannot recall the important aspects related to the trauma.

The symptoms of emotional burnout and social exclusion:

  • Low interest in the daily life events;
  • Feeling of emotional emptiness and alienation from others;
  • Feeling of own life as broken, or severely limited.

The symptoms of the excessive stress of nervous system:

  • The difficulty falling asleep and/or restless and superficial sleep;
  • Irritability and temper tantrums;
  • Difficulty concentrating;
  • Constantly (or frequently) being in a state of scanning surrounding for possible threats;
  • A person shudders and frightens for the most minor and insignificant reasons.

Other common symptoms of PTSD may include: headache; loneliness; feelings of guilt and shame; suicidal thoughts and more. These symptoms can also indicate that there may be some other mental disorders accompanying PTSD, particularly depression.

How can you know whether you have post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)?

If you have emotionally and/or physically experienced some traumatic event and kept living with these feelings for a long period of time, suffering from some of above mentioned symptoms, it is very likely that you have PTSD, and it would be wise to see a professional, who could help to determine the exact diagnosis and, if necessary, prescribe the right treatment.

Treatment of PTSD

The main treatment for post traumatic stress disorder is psychotherapy. For reducing symptoms of PTSD you may also use various anti-anxiety drugs and antidepressants. However, their therapeutic effect is directed mainly towards the treatment of concomitant disorders such as depression, and they can not remove a cause of PTSD. The only real way to get rid of post traumatic stress disorder is to work with your mind and discharge memories of traumatic events and their consequences in your subconscious mind.