Post-traumatic stress disorder is an anxiety disorder that develops following frightening, stressful, or distressing life events. People with post-traumatic stress disorder can experience flashbacks and nightmares and may withdraw from family and friends or lose the ability to function in work and social situations.
When developing PTSD after a traumatic event, it is common for sufferers to also develop depression, personality disorders, other anxiety disorders (such as phobias), or substance abuse problems.
People with PTSD may experience depression or mood swings, anxiety attacks, trouble sleeping, loss of interest in activities they once enjoyed, feeling detached from others, irritability, and other problems. They often have difficulty concentrating and may relive the traumatic event as nightmares or flashbacks. The severity of symptoms varies widely among sufferers. Some people are much more disabled by PTSD, while others have relatively mild symptoms.
Treatment with medications and psychotherapy
Post-traumatic stress disorder is usually treated with medications and psychotherapy. Medications can help reduce anxiety and depression as well as other PTSD symptoms such as nightmares. In some cases, treatment may include medications to help the person sleep better. Therapy works best when it includes both a listening ear and a means of expressing emotions.
Basic diagnosis with PTSD
To be diagnosed with PTSD, you must have all three of the following:
A traumatic event involving death or injury, or threatened death or injury to self or others.
Intense fear, helplessness, horror.
Symptoms of avoidance/numbing/hyperarousal (displayed for a month after the event).
Symptoms cause significant distress or interfere with normal life.
Symptoms last more than one month.
Symptoms of PTSD
There are four different types of symptoms that may occur when someone is suffering from PTSD. They are: reliving the event; avoiding situations that bring on recollections; increased “arousal”; and feeling detached or estranged.
Reliving the Event
People with PTSD may experience repeated upsetting memories or images of their traumatic experiences, which can be triggered by something that symbolizes or represents the trauma. These memories may be so vivid that it feels like the event is happening again, and sufferers often reenact their experiences in an attempt to either seek revenge or just to move on.
Avoiding Situations That Bring On Recollections
People suffering from PTSD avoid certain places or situations that remind them of the traumatic event. They may choose to start changing their daily routines to avoid any situation that brings back negative thoughts and feelings. For example, a rape victim might not want to go out at night anymore because it will remind them of the attack.
People with PTSD often say that they are constantly on the lookout for danger. They might always feel tense, be irritable or have trouble sleeping. It is not uncommon for sufferers to experience dramatic mood swings, outbursts of anger, and physical ailments such as headaches and stomach problems without any clear medical cause.
Sometimes people experiencing PTSD may feel cut off and distant from others, and they may lose interest in things that they used to enjoy. They might feel emotionally numb or “burnt out.” This symptom is particularly common among soldiers who have experienced a lot of combat. Many find it very difficult to relate to the world outside the war zone.