Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, commonly known as ‘PTSD’ for short is a mental health condition that occurs in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event. It causes extreme anxiety, nightmares, countless flashbacks, involuntary recollections of the event. People living with PTSD live in a constant state of fear even when they are not in any form of danger.
It is very difficult for a person with post-traumatic stress disorder to cope with everyday life, they go about life extremely anxious, sometimes depressed. The experience of living with PTSD is as traumatizing as the event that led to the disorder, a lot of the time PTSD is linked to war veterans because of the bulk of war vets suffering from PTSD its no surprise but PTSD also affects people that have been sexually assaulted, physically abused, domestic violence survivors, accident victims and people who have been through any sort of traumatizing experience. We must look out for our loved ones and relatives once we begin to see some of the signs listed in this article, we must seek help because PTSD is not the end of your world. The symptoms of PTSD could be highly physical, someone can be in a public place and everything is fine one moment then the next something around, maybe a particular sound, or the sight of a thing can trigger an emotional aggressive outburst which could be embarrassing. Living with PTSD is being afraid to go to sleep because of the fear of what’s lurking in your dreams, constant nightmares, getting in lost in memories of the trauma even in public places, it is physically and emotionally tasking to live with PTSD.
SYMPTOMS OF PTSD
You or someone you know may be going through PTSD it’s normal for people to be suffering from it and not be aware of it. People experience difficult situations and are constantly reliving the trauma. The cases may differ, some symptoms may appear almost immediately after a traumatic experience, sometimes it may not appear until after some years. Because these symptoms may manifest as an outward physical reaction PTSD affects a person’s life significantly, from career to relationships.
Symptoms of PTSD could be any one of these or combined;
· Avoidance; When you begin to find yourself avoiding thoughts places and people that are reminders of the event
· Involuntary recurring memories; also known as ‘intrusion memories’ disturbing uncontrollable memories of the event begin to reoccur, you start having flashbacks and it feels like you are experiencing the moment again.
· Mood swings; your relationships begin to falter, you find yourself detaching from people you used to be close to, your family and friends. You begin to lose interest in activities you once loved. Nothing seems to interest you, you just want to be by yourself, slowly entering into depression.
· Switch in reactions; emotional numbness, this is also called arousal symptoms it includes being constantly on guard for danger even when you’re in safe spaces, having trouble concentrating for long, lots of trouble sleeping, easily irritated, angry, extreme feelings of guilt and shame.
These symptoms may be triggered by stress or by things that remind you of the event, for example when a rape victim watches a movie with a rape scene in it. As soon as these symptoms start they have the potential to become worse which is why we shouldn’t try to keep it to ourselves.
Children can also have emotional reactions to traumatized experiences, although their symptoms may not be the same as that of adults. Symptoms from children may include any of the following;
· Becoming more silent than usual, being unable to talk
· Extreme clinginess with adults
· Bedwetting and constant nightmares
· Teenagers may show symptoms similar to the ones listed previously for adults. They may also develop destructive behaviors, become more disrespectful, and blame themselves for whatever happened.
TREATMENT FOR PTSD
Having PTSD does not mean the end of your life, there have been medical breakthroughs and functional treatments for it.
EMDR therapy fully known as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy has proven to be an effective treatment of PTSD, it is a well-researched therapy that you will love if you find it difficult to share your traumatic experience. This therapy doesn’t require you to talk, most treatments require you to talk about your experience which may be difficult, understandably because it will be like it’s happening all over again. This therapy focuses on you allowing your brain to resume its natural healing process, instead of telling your therapist about your experience you concentrate on the experience while you watch or listen to a form of bilateral stimulation (whether it is beeping in your ears, or following your therapist’s fingers across your eye span) your therapist is doing, the goal in EMDR is for you to be able to associate a positive cognition (example: “I am safe”) when you remember your trauma, this treatment is widely considered one of the most effective PTSD treatments and it can only be performed by an EMDR specialist.
Asides from therapy medications as prescribed by a therapist can help with managing the symptoms. Other forms of therapy can also be used although they involve talking they also prove to be effective, the goal is to help you deal with it and improve your symptoms. There’s Prolonged Exposure Therapy which will help you confront the trauma if you’ve been trying to avoid it, during your sessions you will be asked to make a list of the things you’ve been avoiding and how you can successfully confront them. There’s cognitive processing therapy, here you will write about the event, then your therapist will take you through the process, to figure out how you think of your trauma, pointing out circumstances beyond your control if you were blaming yourself, and figure out better ways to live with it.
People living with PTSD go through a lot of stress physically and emotionally, once the symptoms begin to show it is best to seek professional help. Anyone that has been through any form of trauma can have PTSD, there may not be direct involvement with the traumatizing experience sometimes, just the knowledge of it can cause post-traumatic stress disorder. Having PTSD does not mean your life is over, there is hope for you. If you feel that you are suffering from PTSD, contact us.