Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a severe psychological disorder, which develops after a person witnesses or experiences any life-threatening traumatic event capable of causing mental or physical harm. The traumatic incident may include accident, death of loved ones, physical abuse, sexual abuse, war, or any other natural disaster. There are research evidences that suggest that families of victims of any unfortunate event can also suffer from PTSD. The overwhelming mental disorder is known to imbibe feelings of fear, anger, guilt, shock, anxiousness, stress, helplessness, sadness, and loneliness in the person battling it.
After an emotional injury or traumatic event, it is common to deal with fear, anxiety, and sadness. The person suffering from PTSD may experience memory impairment, recurrent thoughts about the unfortunate incident, or difficulty in sleeping. Over time, most of the people do get better. But, when you are enduring PTSD, those thoughts and feelings have nowhere to go. They will last for months or even years, and may take a worse turn. Therefore, it is important to seek the relevant treatment at the right time. This PTSD Awareness Month let us take the pledge to raise more awareness about PTSD and encourage those suffering silently to come forward to seek treatment.
Symptoms of PTSD
Many research studies have shown that PTSD symptoms might develop within three to six months post the traumatic event. For others, it might take over a year to develop. The symptoms include:
- Difficulty in sleeping
- Recurrent thoughts of the traumatic event
- Reliving the traumatic event over and over again via flow of negative thoughts, flashbacks, hallucinations, and nightmares
- Feeling of distress when reminded of the unpleasant incident.
- Avoiding places, people or situation that remind them of the traumatic incident
- Living in isolation and becoming socially isolated
- Lack of focus and interest in activity that people used to enjoy earlier
- Loosing temper easily
- Overwhelming emotions, which means either remaining emotionally too attached or detached
- Constant irritability
- Lack of concentration in work
- Decrease in productivity
- Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, anxiety, and fear
- Physical symptoms like accelerated heart rate, nausea, breathlessness, and loose motions
- Feelings of estrangement and guilt for the traumatic event leading to negative cognition
- Depressed mood
How is PTSD diagnosed?
PTSD is diagnosed no earlier than one month after the traumatic event. If the PTSD symptoms appear, the doctor begins evaluating the patient with the help of a complete medical history and physical examination. There is no laboratory test to diagnose PTSD. The doctor may perform various tests to rule out physical illness as the cause of the symptoms.
Once physical illness is ruled out, the patient may be referred to a psychologist, psychotherapist, or a medical counselor depending on individual assessment and the severity of the PTSD symptoms. Post an appropriate clinical PTSD diagnosis and medical supervision a specific treatment plan is prepared and implemented.
Treatment for PTSD
Medication and psychotherapy are two major PTSD treatment plans available to treat this mental disorder. The goal of treatment is to reduce symptoms, relieve emotional exhaustion, and improve daily life functioning.
For medication purposes, a wide range of antidepressants can be combined with therapy to decrease physical symptoms such as blood pressure and manage sleep disorder.
Psychotherapy enhances a patient’s learning and coping ability. It works by changing the mental and behavioral state of the patient for mental and emotional well-being. It also encourages families to deal with the loved ones suffering from PTSD. Psychotherapy includes:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): It works by recognizing the behavioral pattern and reversal of behavior that is responsible for emotional pain and exhaustion.
- Prolonged exposure therapy: Under this therapy, the patient is intentionally exposed to a traumatic event or objects and situations that primarily cause fear. However, this is done in a controlled and safe environment. Long-term exposure therapy can help a person control anxiety and gradually become more comfortable dealing with anxiety and stress-causing situations. This is effective in treating PTSD.
- Psychodynamic therapy: This helps patients in recognizing potential emotional conflicts.
- Family Therapy: This therapy helps families to cope with loved ones suffering from PTSD.
- Group Therapy: This helps patients to meet other people who have had similar exposure to a traumatic event. Interacting with such people helps the patient to understand their situation and gives them courage to cope with it.
- Eye Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR): This therapy is a complex therapy and is used to treat phobia.
When to Seek Help?
According to research, 46 percent people who start psychotherapy for PTSD start showing improvement within six weeks while 62 percent PTSD patients receiving medication show significant progress. This proves that seeking treatment for PTSD can not only help improve symptoms but can also help manage the mental disorder effectively. However, recovery from PTSD is a gradual and continuous process.
If you or your loved one is battling PTSD or any other mental health disorder, get in touch with the Medical Concierge. Call our 24/7 helpline number 877-636-0042 to gain access to details of mental health treatment centers in California offering PTSD treatment. Alternatively, you can also chat with a trained executive to know more about PTSD causes and PTSD symptoms.