What is PTSD Disorder?
Do you find yourself facing flashbacks of tragic events you have experienced? Or perhaps you find yourself depressed most of the time? This could be symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder, more commonly known as PTSD. In case you’re wondering what is PTSD definition – PTSD stands for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It is a psychological disorder which is caused by experiencing or witnessing a highly distressing event. The PTSD disease can be triggered by the loss of a loved one, witnessing a terror attack, a natural disaster, domestic attack, sexual abuse or even an accident.
While our nervous system is equipped to handle various events, it may not always be as strong as we believe it to be and although the symptoms of PTSD in children are prominent, it is witnessed mostly in adults, above the age of 18. Its most common victims have been soldiers from all over the world who have faced combat stress.
What is PTSD Like?
Many times, like various other psychological stress disorders, post traumatic stress symptoms is shunned and not taken seriously. What people do not know is that a PTSD patient can suffer from serious physical health issues due to the stress placed on the brain.
It could be anything from insomnia to nightmares to blanking out and even loss of appetite. In many cases, it leads to unwanted thoughts and even suicide/suicidal attempts. It can even prevail for years on end.
PTSD Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Symptoms List
The most common symptoms of PTSD have been mentioned below:
One of the most common signs and symptoms of PTSD in veterans are flashbacks or re-visiting the event in one’s head. This is highly common and one of the main post traumatic stress syndrome symptoms. During this time a person might experience nightmares, feelings of distress or even intense sweating at just the thought of it.
PTSD patients might experience post trauma stress disorder symptoms like becoming very anxious and might even avoid areas, people or even objects that may remind them of the traumatic event. They become highly scared of going out and experiencing new things.
Post traumatic depression symptoms in patients appear to be highly depressed at random moments with no real explanation as to what might have brought on the mood swing, this might eventually lead to self-harm and in extreme cases, even suicide.
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Lack of sleep or insomnia becomes a daily routine which can lead to many other harmful illnesses. This is considered to be one of the complex PTSD symptoms as it could be caused because of the fear of having nightmares, causing them to re-live the trauma and so, quite often to counter this experience, the person forces themselves to stay awake for long periods at a time out of fear that they may relive the experience in their dreams.
One of the severe PTSD symptoms could lead to a person blacking out for lengths at a time. During this time the person is unaware of their surroundings or what they are doing.
PTSD causes the person to seem withdrawn from life in general. Emotional detachment from loved ones, loss of interest in activities that they used to love, exclusion from conversations etc, are also symptoms.
One of the symptoms of PTSD in women is that the patient might become easily angered and aggressive towards everyone they meet and as a result, they begin to have a negative outlook on life altogether and feel like everything is against them.
Aggression is also sometimes adapted as a hiding mechanism, in order to not show fear or attachment.
These PTSD symptoms in women are often confused or cast aside as hormonal changes due to puberty, menstruation, and menopause.
Sometimes the symptoms may last less than three months, when this occurs it is termed as acute PTSD. If it extends to more than three months, it is called chronic or complex post traumatic stress disorder. Should post trauma symptoms occur after six months of the event, the disorder is termed as delayed-onset PTSD.
What Can Cause PTSD?
Although no one knows for certain what the causes and signs of post traumatic stress disorder are, the following are a few possible causes of PTSD:
- Traumatic road accidents (especially among drivers involved)
- Sexual or physical assault – mugging, rape, kidnapping, etc.
- Sexual, physical and mental abuse carried out over long periods of time
- Witness to violent events, often resulting in the death of the other person.
- Soldiers who have experienced war
- People living in war zones
- Terrorist attacks
- Nature caused disasters
- Unexpected loss or chronic injury of a loved one
PTSD in Adults
The signs of PTSD in adults are most like the symptoms that have been mentioned above. However, the symptoms of PTSD in adults differ from the symptoms of PTSD in children in the following manners:
- It is easier to spot PTSD signs and symptoms in an adult than a child as an adult will be able to spot the memories triggering PTSD anxiety disorder, whereas a child will find it difficult to spot the exact memory.
- It is also easier to diagnose an adult as most often symptoms experienced in a child go unnoticed or are not taken on a more serious note.
PTSD Veterans: War and Soldiers
Most soldiers who have been witnessed to war zones will experience combat PTSD symptoms. This is found is 1 of 3 soldiers who have fought wars or who have come face to face with raw violence. The most common symptoms of PTSD in soldiers are:
- Feeling emotionally numb
- The feeling of being trapped in the traumatic event
Whether it is a single incident of abuse or recurring events, it is important to remember that the symptoms of PTSD from abuse can even occur years after the experience. In most cases, this type of chronic PTSD symptoms occur among adults who have repressed memories of abuse during their childhood.
Is PTSD a Mental Illness?
PTSD is considered to be a mental illness as it affects the brain directly. This results in memory loss by affecting areas of the brain that deal with memory function (hippocampus, amygdala, and medial prefrontal cortex)
Post Traumatic Anxiety Disorder and Acute Stress Disorder
PTSD is also considered to be an anxiety disorder and a stress-related illness. Although the signs of stress in men might differ to the stress symptoms in women, the overall effects of stress disorder are almost the same among all genders.
Here are some symptoms of stress disorder that differ in women and men:
- Women are more likely to experience symptoms in the form of emotional behavior.
- Men are more likely to get moody easily and are more likely to resort to alcohol abuse.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Causes and Effects
Without proper treatment, the effects of post traumatic stress disorder can be harmful to the point of suicide. Here are a few side effects of PTSD:
- Eating disorders
- Feeling Numb
- Alcohol and Drug Abuse
- Unable to maintain a job
- Fear of Social Life
- Self Harm
How to Treat PTSD?
There are a few different ways of treating PTSD. However, the best treatment for PTSD can only help with the right PTSD diagnosis. The wrong diagnosis can result in medication and therapy that is not essential for your recovery.
While many argue that there is no cure for PTSD, many other cases have been found to be successfully treated through psychotherapy/counseling methods like cognitive restructuring or virtual reality treatment; and also antidepressant medication.
- PTSD Counseling: Counselling is the first step for PTSD help. It is most often that through counseling one is diagnosed with PTSD.
- Treatment for PTSD and Depression: Most often through counseling, prescribed anti-depressants and therapy, one can overcome any signs of PTSD and depression.
PTSD Therapy: The therapy for PTSD differs from person to person, depending on how severe the symptoms are and the cause of the disorder. Here are a few therapy treatments for PTSD:
- Cognitive Therapy: Helps you understand your trauma and what thoughts trigger stress and anxiety. It also helps you accept the fact that the incident was not your fault. This therapy is most common among PTSD soldiers.
- Exposure Therapy: This therapy teaches you not to fear situations, places, and people. This is used mostly in cases of abuse.
- Group Therapy: Often the best PTSD cure is being surrounded by people who are facing the same problem as you. This helps to counter depression and the feeling of loneliness.
- Family Therapy: While some people are not comfortable with sharing with strangers, they might actually feel comforted surrounded by family. Family therapy not only helps the patient cope but also allows loved ones to understand what the patient is facing and how to deal with it.
Can You Recover from PTSD?
It is possible to recover from PTSD with the right help. There are many various post traumatic stress disorder treatment centers that you can visit to seek help, should you feel that you or someone you know are experiencing the symptoms of PTSD.
In case you are unable to find any PTSD treatment centers near you, you can always visit your local psychologist for help.