Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental condition. In the past, it was associated with soldiers who had come from war but it is now recognized as an illness that can affect anybody.
PTSD occurs when one is exposed to extremely stressful situations either as a witness or through experience. It can also come on as a result of a perceived threat. These threats can be physical or ones that attack your integrity. One who is suffering from PTSD has a heightened sense of danger and helplessness even when it is safe.
According to Psychology Today, for an accurate diagnosis of PTSD, one has to have had the symptoms for at least 30 days without them easing up.
Symptoms of PTSD
This presents itself as hypervigilance which leads to insomnia and excessive worrying. The patient gets startled easily and sometimes this can be a violent reaction to unexpected sound or movement.
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They keep going back to the traumatic event even when it took place a long time ago. Any small act or word serves as a trigger bringing up memories of the stressful situation. This often leads to feelings of dread and panic attacks. It’s as if they are reliving the event over and over again.
3. Low self-esteem
Feelings of guilt and shame often come about. One has negative feelings towards oneself sometimes even blaming themselves for getting into that stressful situation. They begin to ask themselves why they stayed in that situation.
4. Inability to concentrate
Since their brain is so focused on protecting themselves from danger, the patient has trouble concentrating for extended periods of time. Another sign is a loss of memory particularly when it comes to recalling details of the event.
Like depression and other mental illnesses, one who is suffering from PTSD tends to avoid others’ company. They see this as a way to protect themselves from danger or reminders of the traumatic event.
They might also find it difficult to trust people treating them with hostility and suspicion.
PTSD is a treatable illness. The most common way of treating a trauma patient is by talk therapy. This helps you understand your illness (that you are a survivor and not a victim), face your fears, learn to deal with them and identify triggers. Nevertheless, on some occasions, medication can be used to accompany the therapy.
A good self-care routine will also help you cope with PTSD as will removing yourself from stressful situations. Eating healthily, exercising, getting enough sleep are examples of ways you can practice self-care.
While its almost impossible to avoid traumatic experiences, having a good support system can help you cope should you have flashbacks or find yourself in stressful situations. Speak to trusted family members, friends or a therapist to help ease the stress.