What does PTSD stand for?

What does PTSD stand for? PTSD stands for post-traumatic stress disorder, and it develops as a reaction to an extremely traumatic event. A person suffering from PTSD, have personally experienced or witnessed act murder, violence, death of relatives or others, abuse or assault. Sometimes PTSD can occur in result of the less traumatic situations. It depends on the personal characteristics of the individual and the childhood traumas he suffered.

Typical stressful situations that cause PTSD are:

  • military service and military operations
  • being a hostage
  • being captured
  • being a victim of theft
  • rape
  • terrorist attack
  • kidnapping
  • natural disasters

The first reaction to a traumatic event is acute stress (acute stress disorder), which is accompanied by a groundless fear, feeling of helplessness and a state of horror. However, the human body has a mechanism of defense, which helps us in the first minutes and hours of the acute stress and pain. This defense mechanism is called a shock. While a person is being in the shock, this condition can be compared with anesthesia; the sensitivity becomes dull or disappears completely. But despite the shock, human reaction to the traumatic event does not disappear. The above feelings and physical pain really exist, although temporarily a person may not feel this. That’s why, if you ever get into a traumatic situation, you should ask for a medical help without losing valuable time. Doctors recommend that you seek a psychological aid in case of the acute stress in the next 36 hours, in this case, the post-traumatic stress disorder, following the shock and stress, will have the least impact on your psyche.

Depending on the nature of the experienced trauma, PTSD can manifest itself in the following symptoms:

  • Fear, paranoia
  • Total distrust of people, a sense of isolation from others
  • Chronic fatigue, irritability, depression
  • Constant anxiety
  • Somatic diseases, such as hormonal disruption and so on
  • Failure to adjust to the real-life situations
  • Passivity, fatalism, which manifests itself in a form of hopelessness with a loss of interest in activities that previously brought a feeling of joy.
  • Living mechanically without any interest in future
  • Hostility towards other people, paranoid reactions
  • Phobias

People may have different symptoms and their combination. The problem is that many people do not even seek help, suffering from the symptoms of PTSD. If a person does not get a help of a professional immediately after the traumatic event, the body defenses can help to tame the experience, and one can think that the experience is forgotten. But unless it is really discharged, it is still there in subconscious mind, and symptoms will stay. The brain protective mechanisms works in a way that the memory of a trauma is suppressed, but experienced emotions stay intact. Consequently, the memories of a trauma separate from the feelings associated with the trauma, i.e. the traumatic feelings are experienced again and again, but one can not remember any detail of a trauma itself. Very often, the pieces of the suppressed memories erupt in a dream in the form of nightmares.

People with PTSD symptoms, apart from those listed above, also may experience a change in emotions. Before the traumatic event they could react differently on different events, with appropriate feelings. But after the trauma, patients use only one type of emotion in response to different events, such as irritation. Every patient with PTSD has his own set of “favorite” emotions. In everyday life, these patients unconsciously feel the possible release of such accumulated depressed feelings. Therefore, they try to be emotionally numb and hardly show their feelings.

Therapists will provide the treatment for PTSD individually or in a therapy groups. In result of the psychotherapy a patient gets rid not only of the PTSD symptoms, but also regains the meaning of life.