Post-traumatic stress disorder is the persistent state of being emotionally and mentally stressed due to an injury or severe psychological damage. This disorder has been affecting people since as early as 1900 BCE but did not receive a psychological term until the 1980s. Although most peoples who survive such horrific events will return to their normal lives, some will have adverse reactions that will recur or even get worse with time. There are various signs and symptoms of post-traumatic stress including re-experiencing, avoidance, arousal and numbing symptoms. While re-experiencing symptoms involve reliving the traumatic event, avoidance symptoms are characterised by victim’s avoidance of thoughts, feelings, conversations as well as any activities and events related to the event. Numbing symptoms relate to difficulties in patient’s ability to express his/her feelings to other people. On the other hand, arousal symptoms involve constant alertness for danger, being easily and always frightened and difficulties in getting sleep after traumatic events.
Potential effects of post-traumatic events include depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. These effects may be more severely affecting the nervous system, which could lead to brain and heart problems or even suicide. Although there is no specific diagnosed treatment for post-traumatic events, counselling, medication, psychotherapy or their combinations are used to heal the adverse effects of the traumatic event to the individual. It’s high time people live to understand these signs as well as how to help and live with traumatised persons in a way that facilitates their healing.
The new millennium brought in celebrations of hope, prosperity, and peace. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, our world enjoyed leadership that was widely accepted and respected. Many people worked for peace across the globe. Today, a lot of people, across the world, live in fear and anxiety for themselves and their families. Social and political events have caused people to live in fear for their safety. Traumatic events are stressful. The stress caused by a traumatic event can cause a psychiatric disorder called post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is trauma and stress-related disorder that is caused after exposure to an event in which death or severe physical harm happened, or there was a threat to death or harm to happen. PTSD can be caused by anything that causes helplessness, fear, shock, or horror to a person. Victims of the disorder include, but are not limited to, military troops, rescue workers, shooting survivors, survivors of bombings, domestic violence victims or witnesses, abuse, and rape. 5.2 million people experience Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder every year while 7.8 million people in America usually experience Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder at some points during their lives (Iribarren, & Chiappelli, 2005). Most people who survive such a horrific event will return to their normal lives, but some people will have reactions caused from the stress that does not go away, and the reactions may even get worse with time.
Although h PTSD symptoms mostly begin immediately after a traumatic event, it’s not easy to diagnose until the symptom last for almost a month. These symptoms can cause severe problems with friends, family, and work. The symptoms are generally categorised into four types: re-experiencing, avoidance, numbing, and arousal symptoms.
Re-experiencing symptoms involve reliving the traumatic event. The victim can have recurrent, unwanted memories of the event. These memories can happen when the victim is not expecting them, or the memory can be triggered by something that reminds them of the trauma. These memories can cause mental and physical reactions. The memory may be so real to the victim that they feel as if the horrible event is happening again. This is called a “flashback.” The victim can also experience nightmares that interfere with their rest. Reliving the event repeatedly can cause the victim to have feelings of fear, helplessness, and horror similar to the same feeling that they experienced during the actual trauma.
Symptoms related to avoidance include avoiding thoughts, conversations, or feelings about the trauma. The victim will tend to avoid people, activities, as well as places that tend to remind them of the event. They will try to distract themselves as one way to avoid thinking of the event. The victim may avoid family, friends, or even their job to avoid the shock.
Numbing symptoms are another way that victims use to cope with their feelings. Patients with PTSD may have a quite difficult time in trying to express their feelings to other people. They may have difficulty having positive thoughts and claim to feel nothing. They will want to be alone and not be around family or friends. The victim may have memory problems especially when it comes to the trauma. They will block out all memories that are related to the traumatic event.
Symptoms of changes in physical and emotional reactions are called arousal symptoms. The victim may constantly be on alert for danger after the traumatic experience. They may be easily frightened. This can cause trouble sleeping and concentrating. Sleep disturbances can result in many problems. The victim may have angry outbursts and become aggressive. They could turn to harmful behaviours like drinking too much, drug abuse, or fighting.
Contributions to PTSD
Traumatic Stress disorder can be caused by any event that triggers fear, shock, horror, or helplessness. Most people who suffer through a traumatic event will not develop it. There is no apparent reason why some people develop the condition, and some do not. About 7.7 million Americans of 18 years and above have .67% of these people is made up of people who have been exposed to mass violence (“Posttraumatic Stress Disorder,” n.d.). However, certain things can contribute to developing PTSD. Victims of childhood abuse are more exposed to this disorder than any other population.. Having a history of mental illnesses, anxiety, or drug abuse can increase the chance of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Environmental risk factors like family dysfunction, cultural variables, childhood adversities, and family psychiatric illnesses can also facilitate Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. The more dramatic the event plays a role too. The chances increase if the person was directly involved, seriously injured, or if the trauma lasted a long time. Some factors can help to reduce the risk of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, too. Strong support of family and friends can help. A sense of feeling good about yourself and feeling strong despite a feeling of fear. Professionals in mental health can also provide help and support to provide coping strategies when faced with triggers of PTSD.
Causes and Effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
People living with PTSD are more likely to experience other issues such as depression, substance abuse, or anxiety. They have problems functioning in normal life situations resulting in more divorces, abuse, and unemployment. PSTD patients may experience physical symptoms caused by depression and anxiety. This disorder does alter a person’s nervous system and could cause suicidal thoughts. Extreme levels of PSTD affects the brain and is likely to cause heart-related problems.
Although there is not an apparent treatment for PTSD, commonly used methods involve psychotherapy, medication as well as counselling.Combination of the three methods also leads to positive results. Cognitive processing therapy is a process where the patient is taught how to think about the trauma differently. Cognitive processing equips the patients with the ability to work through the event, gaining control of any inherent fear. Also, exposure therapy can also be used which involves disusing the incident repeatedly with the patient to confront any ear. Teaching the patient how to deal with anxiety in any situation through stress inoculation reduce symptoms of PTSD. Doctors may prescribe antidepressants to help control symptoms such as sadness, worry, and anger. Using medications along with therapy may be more effective. Besides, accepting the impact caused by the event on one’s life and acting t in a way that improves life may help the situation. If you can accept that, your healing does not mean forgetting but means letting the symptoms bother you less; then you gain the ability to cope with the memories.
Social media, news, and the internet spread ideas and even violence instantly. A dramatic act, tragedy, or violence is instantly streamed into our lives. The hope, prosperity, and peace once brought in with the new millennium are whisked away at the swipe of a phone. Our leaders, nor their positions, are no longer respected. Traumatic events are happening more often, in our country, communities, and homes. The percentage of Post-Traumatic Stress in adults and children will rise as more people realise that they need help. This is a real disorder with serious symptoms, and it is important to get help immediately.