What is PTSD and how to help yourself?
What is PTSD? First the problem of PTSD was addressed after observing and analyzing the impact of extreme situations on the human psyche. Scientists and doctors have come to conclusion that in similar situations exist not only actual but also hidden victims – those, who develop severe psychopathological syndrome after trauma. It was called the post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
So, PTSD is the result of severe psychological trauma caused by some terrifying event. And it does not matter whether a person has experienced this trauma or just witnessed the event. It may be a war, act of terrorism, natural disaster, different kinds of violence, including a child trauma, death of a loved one or even a serious illness. Many people experience severe effects of the trauma, so they need some time and help of their close ones to recover. However, if the symptoms persist or worsen after a few months or even years, – it can indicate the presence of PTSD.
How to recognize the PTSD symptoms?
PTSD symptoms are divided into four groups:
- intrusive memories;
- attempts to avoid anything that might remind of the traumatic experience;
- adverse behavioral and mental changes;
- emotional changes.
A person is suffering from the constant memories and nightmares of the terrible event. He/she does not want to remember, but cannot help mentioning. A person may also suffer from the so-called “flashbacks” as if going back in time, when the traumatic event took place. To make a diagnosis only one of these symptoms is required.
Another criterion for PTSD is an attempt to avoid any thought, conversation or emotion associated with the traumatic event. A person, suffering from PTSD may have psychogenic amnesia, due to which he/she is not able to remember what happened at the time of trauma; the feeling of emptiness and emotional numbness, loss of interest in things which one used to injoy; thoughts of the bleak future, relationship problems and a sense of isolation.
PTSD can dramatically change the emotional state of the person. It is also characterized by irritability, flashes of anger, constant feeling of guilt or shame, self-destructive behavior (alcohol or drugs abuse, fast driving), problems with sleep and concentration, heightened awareness and exaggerated startle reaction, when a person is afraid of any sharp sound or touch.
The intensity of symptoms can vary depending on time and situation.
What is the treatment for PTSD?
If the diagnosis is confirmed, the doctor will suggest a comprehensive treatment, which includes psychotherapy and medications. Usually the treatment starts with a combination of these two methods and then continues with psychotherapy.
Unfortunately, PTSD can affect not only a person himself, but also his family. A man becomes completely different, – irritable and angry, it becomes impossible to have a normal conversation. First of all, you must understand that you cannot help this person on your own.
Here are few tips if you find yourself close to a man with PTSD:
- Complete refusal to accept help – is a part of the syndrome, so if your close one rejects your participation, let him know that you are always ready to help him, but do not push on him.
- If he is ready to visit a doctor, ask him if he wouldn’t mind your company – it will help you to understand the treatment process.
- Be willing to listen, but do not try to force him to talk – some PTSD patients have a constant need to talk about their experiences, while others prefer to keep quiet.
- Try to involve him in different occupations with family and friends, but remember that he may not experience the joy fully.
The last and very important remark: sometimes PTSD is accompanied by outbursts of anger and violence. It is necessary to understand and keep in mind that in this case you and probably your children may need a safe place to escape. Therefore, in any case, do not forget about yourself and be sure to ask for help if you feel that you cannot make it on your own.