PTSD is a psychiatric disorder that may occur after the exposure to a traumatic event. People differ in their reaction to trauma; some will return back to normal after an exposure to a traumatic event, others will experience symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder. PTSD develops differently from one person to another. Symptoms of PTSD most commonly develop in the hours or days that follow the traumatic event , but can also happens weeks, months, or even years after the incident.
PTSD is some what common. It can affect those who personally experience the trauma, those who witness it, and those who pick up the pieces afterwards, including law enforcement officers and emergency response workers. In the United States, 60% of men and 50% of women experience a traumatic event during their lifetimes. The diagnosis of PTSD was developed by studying soldiers from war, and it was originally called “shell shock syndrome.”
Many events and life situations may lead to the development of PTSD, these include:
- Exposure to severe burns such as third degree burns.
- Military combat.
- Sudden death of a loved one.
- Sexual assault or physical attack in childhood or adulthood.
- Exposure to terrorist attack.
- Exposure to natural disasters such as earthquake.
- Exposure to a serious accident.
PTSD can happen in adults as well as in children. The symptoms may rise suddenly, gradually or come and go over time. In adults, the symptoms may include:
- Any reminder of the traumatic event will produce upsetting memories and intense physical reactions like rapid breathing, palpitation, nausea, sweating and muscle tension.
- Having flashbacks, bad dreams (Re-living the events).
- People try to avoid situations and things that trigger the traumatic event.
- People isolate themselves from others and may feel emotionally numb, they may be less interested or lose interest in activities that they used to like.
- People feel irritable, anxious, have anger outbursts.
- Feeling that they are in constant danger.
- Having difficulty in concentrating.
- Having sleep difficulty.
- Having nightmares.
- Having depression.
- Having suicidal feelings and thoughts.
Children may show symptoms of PTSD depending on their age, young children may have nightmares, sleeping problems, fear and upset if the parents are not nearby, regression in a previously trained child such as bed wetting, and toilet training trouble.
Some people will develop PTSD after a trauma while others won’t; people will have increased the risk of developing PTSD if:
- The person was seriously injured as a result of the trauma.
- The person was the one who was exposed directly to the trauma.
- The trauma was long lasting.
- The person was not in control during the event.
- The person had a previous mental issue.
- The person had a history of prior severe trauma.
- The person doesn’t get that much help and support after the trauma.
- Counseling (talk therapy): this is one of the methods of treatment in which the person can get help and discuss his/her feeling that will help to get to normal life activities. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of treatment that helps is promising and is the most effective in counseling. Family therapy may be effective too as PTSD not only affect the patient him/herself but those who are close to the patient, this therapy help the family understand what the patient is going through and communicate better with him/her.
- Medications: in the form of antidepressant medications.
Other diseases and conditions may occur with PTSD such as depression, panic attacks, drug and alcohol abuse.
- The earlier the treatment, the better the outcome as symptoms of PTSD may get worse.
- Seek medical help if you or your child has symptoms of PTSD.
- Seek help and support from your family or your close friends, they may be able to help and support you.
This information is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice; it should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Call 911 for all medical emergencies.