From warning signs to treatment, here’s everything you need to know about PTSD
By NCVC Staff | Published on Oct 12, 2023
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is often associated with the experiences of war veterans. However, it is important to recognize that PTSD is more common than we think, affecting individuals who have faced intense stress due to significant physical or psychological events. These events, deemed disturbing for most people, can trigger acute stress responses of varying degrees.
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Recognizing the Symptoms
Clinically, PTSD is diagnosed after exposure to intensely stressful events such as death, serious injury, or sexual violence. The following symptoms indicate the presence of PTSD:
- Involuntary and distressing memories, dreams, or flashbacks related to the traumatic event.
- Persistent avoidance of memories, thoughts, or places associated with the trauma.
- Negative mood states, beliefs, or doubts that arise or worsen after the incident. These are often accompanied by fear, anger, guilt, shame, feelings of detachment, or an inability to experience positive emotions.
- Behavioral issues like irritability, angry outbursts, recklessness, or hyper vigilance.
The Reality of PTSD
Let’s consider the case of Gargi, who was involved in a bus accident. Although she only suffered minor physical injuries, Gargi began experiencing disturbed sleep and severe gastric distress upon her return home. Nightmares, palpitations, and anxiety became constant companions, leading her to avoid buses altogether and experience difficulty in concentration. Gargi’s life was deeply affected, and after being diagnosed with PTSD, she embarked on a journey of counseling and medication to regain normalcy.
Recognizing Warning Signs
PTSD symptoms can manifest in various ways. Look out for these warning signs:
- Loss of interest in previously enjoyable activities and social withdrawal.
- Excessive anxiety triggered by minor incidents or news.
- Inability to experience pleasure from activities.
- Anger, irritability, or mood swings.
- Obsessive reactions to routine scenarios.
- Sleep and appetite disturbances.
- Non-specific physical complaints without an identifiable cause.
- Preoccupation with the traumatic event or generalization of related experiences.
- Alcohol or drug abuse.
- Deterioration in performance.
Seeking professional help is crucial when signs or symptoms of PTSD are noticed. Trauma de-briefing, which involves discussing significant traumatic events, can be a preventive measure to avoid the development of PTSD. In some cases, it can also be used to halt the progression of symptoms.
A comprehensive treatment plan, tailored to individual needs, is vital. A psychiatric evaluation is conducted to identify vulnerability factors and formulate an appropriate approach. Medication may be prescribed to reduce anxiety and mood symptoms, allowing for effective psychotherapy. Additionally, family and supportive counseling play a pivotal role in understanding individual reactions and creating a supportive environment.
By understanding and managing PTSD, individuals can embark on a path towards recovery and a better quality of life. Remember, support and professional guidance are invaluable in this journey of healing.