Many people experience or witness a serious illness, accident, personal assault, or other traumatic event and for most, with time the grief passes and life eventually goes back to normal.
As most recover from such events there are some who experience severe distress, anxiety, and depression for months and even years. They will often relive the experience thru disruptive thoughts, upsetting reminders, and nightmares. With such heightened responses being calm, relaxing, concentrating, and sleeping can become extremely difficult. These are symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.
PTSD is a serious, often debilitating condition brought on by life-threatening events such as a natural disaster, serious accident, terrorist incident, home invasion, sudden death of a loved one, war, rape, or other violent personal assault.
Top 4 Symptoms Include:
1. Re-experiencing the event. Usually through nightmares, recollections, and flashbacks.
2. Emotional numbness and avoidance of places, people, loved ones and friends.
3. Overall negative feelings, thoughts and mood
4. Difficulty sleeping and concentrating, feeling jumpy and easily agitated.
Although these symptoms usually appear within days or weeks of trauma, it is possible they may not appear for months or years after.
Causes and Effects
Scientists have studied why some patients recover from trauma and some develop PTSD. It has been found that genes often play a role as well as the severity of the trauma. For example; someone who experiences a brutal rape or is at war for a long period of time are more likely to develop PTSD than someone who experiences a sudden loss of loved one.
Mentally reliving a traumatic experience can almost be as stressful and frightening to some PTSD patients than the original event. Along with the physical and psychological symptoms, there is often added embarrassment, confusion, and frustration. Even though PTSD has specific symptoms it is often misdiagnosed and often leads to strains on relationships.
Research has proven that both depression and anxiety are risk factors in suicide. More than 90% of people who commit suicide suffer from a diagnosable illness. Early diagnosis and intervention with treatment are critical steps to feeling better.
If symptoms lasting beyond a couple weeks occur after trauma, seek professional help. Most people who receive treatment for PTSD see significant improvement and enjoy a better quality of life. There are many treatment options including cognitive-behavioral therapy, exposure therapy, and anxiety management; as well as medication. What works for one person may not be the right treatment for another so it is important to consult with your physician.
Suffering from PTSD can interfere with your life. There are many resources that will help you or a loved one get feeling better. Connect with those who understand your condition and can connect you with a community of people experiencing the same things. Learn about causes, symptoms, and effective treatments for anxiety, trauma, stress, and depression. Review questions and thoughts with your doctor and/or therapist. Find helpful materials, podcasts, and videos to help as well.
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