It is natural for people who go through traumatic events to feel scared and have temporary difficulty coping with it. Most people usually recover from the symptoms and get better with time and good self-care. However, you may have PTSD if the symptoms worsen, last for months or even years and interfere with your daily functioning.
What is PTSD?
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health disorder that develops in certain individuals who have witnessed or experienced a terrifying, scary event such as physical assault, childhood abuse or an accident.
The official cause of PTSD is unknown, but it is thought to be caused by a mix of certain factors including:
Signs and Symptoms
PTSD symptoms usually begin early, within a few months of the event but sometimes, they do not appear for years. These lead to significant problems in your work, social and personal life.
Symptoms can vary in intensity over time for each individual. They are generally grouped into four categories:
Negative changes in thinking and mood
PTSD treatment will provide a sense of control over your life. The primary treatment is psychotherapy, but medication is also used. These will teach you how to address your symptoms and learn coping mechanisms for whenever they arise, thereby improving symptoms considerably.
Also known as talk therapy, it requires the individual to talk with a mental health professional from 6-12 weeks. The different types include:
This helps you recognize their negative thinking and make sense of their bad memories. It also restructures those thoughts and shows you what happened in a realistic way.
This behavioral therapy helps you deal with the fear and control it. It involves gradual exposure to the trauma in a safe way so you can learn to cope with it in a safe way.
Several types of medications can help improve symptoms. These include:
This is the most common type used which helps manage some of the symptoms such as depression, worry and anger. It also improves sleep problems and focus.
These are generally used for a short time and help relieve extreme anxiety.
Over the last decade, progress surrounding research on the mental and biological foundations of PTSD has resulted in scientists concentrating more on the underlying reasons why people have a number of reactions to trauma.
In a recent study, researchers may have come close to improve a common treatment of PTSD by altering the way the brain responds to fearful situations. It offers a potential improvement to exposure therapy. The idea is to simply replace an expected threat with a harmless sound which will lead to a long-lasting feeling of safety.
Dr. Sundus Shafat Ahmad MBBS (DU), MD (RGUHS)