PTD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post-traumatic stress disorder is defined as the development of psychological  symptoms following a traumatic event. This disorder was actually first  recognized as far back as World War 1 where soldiers were seen to be suffering  anxiety, flashbacks and nightmares which lasted weeks, months and even years  after the experience of combat. Back then this condition was labelled shell  shock.

Post traumatic-stress disorder can present itself in anyone who has suffered  severe trauma. This trauma can be anything that produces intense fear or terror  which could include assaults, rape, violent crimes against yourself or close  family members and would include natural disasters such as earthquakes, severe  flooding, plane crashes etc. The symptoms appear to be more severe and last  longer if the trauma is personal as in the case of rape or other violent  crimes.

Common symptoms are:

  • Flashbacks – these feel so intense you feel you are reliving the trauma
  • Nightmares – very common in post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Loss of interest in activities you previously enjoyed
  • Persistent anxiety
  • Inability to sleep well – constantly waking up during the night
  • Irritability – including outbursts of anger
  • Feeling detached or estranged from others including family members
  • Constant distressing thoughts of the traumatic event
  • Avoiding activities which could possibly end in the traumatic event  happening again

 

To be medically diagnosed as having post-traumatic stress disorder the  symptoms must have been present for at least a month and be causing you extreme  distress whilst interfering with everyday life to a large degree. Sufferers of  this disorder tend to have symptoms of depression as well as chronic anxiety  symptoms. If other people died as a result of the trauma then guilt is also a  major symptom with the sufferer maybe having feelings of blame or responsibility  for the event or simply feeling guilty that they have survived.

Post-traumatic stress disorder can occur at any age, in children the trauma  will sometimes be re-enacted in their play or in upsetting dreams. In total this  disorder is thought to affect around four percent of the population with a rise  in the number of sufferers during wartime.

Treatment methods include:

  • Relaxation therapy – deep breathing and other relaxation methods
  • Exposure therapy – exposure to the situation will help you to realize it is  no longer dangerous
  • Cognitive therapy – fearful thoughts are replaced with more realistic  thinking
  • Support groups – helps the sufferer realize they are not alone
  • Medication – Here the most popular drugs being SSRI’s, sometimes combined  with the short term use of tranquilizers

 

If you think you or a loved one may be experiencing post-traumatic stress  disorder then contact your family doctor who can get you started with treatment  and/or if necessary refer you to a specialist in this disorder. Help is  available – please ask for it.

© Andrew Tudor Jones