Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that is caused by frightening or dangerous events. After the event, the sufferer usually experiences many uncomfortable symptoms, and may act uncharacteristically. Some of the most common causes of PTSD include:
Typically, a person would be temporarily frightened, scared or shocked by a traumatizing experience. With time, they would eventually heal from the situation. But when this fight or flight response keeps recurring in response to old trauma, it is categorized as PTSD.
It’s important to note that someone can develop PTSD just from witnessing an event or having a loved one who went through a traumatic experience. In cases like these, it’s often harder for people to get help because they don’t realize that they’re dealing with a mental illness.
An estimated one in 11 people will be diagnosed with PTSD. These numbers are high due to the wide spectrum of events that can cause PTSD. And just like there are a variety of causes, there are even more symptoms of PTSD.
Symptoms of PTSD are often broken up into four categories: re-experiencing symptoms, avoidance symptoms, changes in physical and emotional reactions, and cognitive and mood symptoms. These symptoms do not always appear immediately after a traumatic experience, and they can occur weeks, months, or even years following traumatic events.
Re-experiencing symptoms are symptoms that the patient relives pertaining to the traumatic event. These are often described in movies and television shows as the sufferer “reliving” the traumatic event. These symptoms include:
Avoidance symptoms occur when someone with PTSD deliberately avoids topics or activities that remind them of the traumatic event. In some cases, these behaviors may harm their personal relationships and lead to isolation. Common things for PTSD sufferers to avoid include:
Patients are characterized by having:
For a PTSD diagnosis, a person must experience one or more re-experiencing symptoms and one or more avoidance symptoms. Also, they will need to display two or more changes in physical and emotional reactions and two or more cognitive and mood symptoms.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, depression, substance abuse, and anxiety disorders often accompany post-traumatic stress disorder. Additionally, there are risk factors that can increase the likelihood of experiencing symptoms of PTSD, such as:
Resilience factors that reduce the risk of having PTSD following traumatic events include:
Treatment for PTSD can help patients learn how to cope with these symptoms. Seeking the help of a mental health professional is one course of treatment a patient can choose.
Types of therapies used to treat PTSD include:
If you or a loved one has gone through a traumatic event and are experiencing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, know that there are treatment options available. Do you have questions about how we’ll treat your PTSD? Fill out this contact form or call our admissions specialists at 407-449-8404.