Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

PsychologyAbnormal Psychology

As human beings, we are always on the wheel of chaos, which revolves around the speed of light. The day starts with resolving one undeniable aspect of that chaos and ends with peaceful sleep. However, this is not always the case as sometimes the body's system does not support processing some strange part of the chaos in our life as if it is not registered in our system, and we end up getting more anxious, stressed, and overwhelmed. In this case, when it becomes repetitive and symptoms start owing us, is what PTSD looks like in general in human beings.


What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTDS)?

As defined by the American Psychiatric Association,

“Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric disorder involving extreme distress and disruption of daily living after exposure to a traumatic event.”

Traumatic stress can lead to a variety of psycho-emotional and physiologically harmful effects. This stress can be generated from various events such as terrorist attacks, violent crimes, abuse, military combats, natural disasters, or violent personal assaults (such as rape). Therefore, when a person suffers from these stressors persistently, his sympathetic nervous system activates to mobilize body resources and induce flight-fight mode, but the body has certain limits, and due to this, the coping mechanism breaks down, which results in the severity of PTSD. Sleepless nights, recurring nightmares, substance abuse, and dissociation are a few symptoms shown by the person who has PTSD. Also, people suffering from this disorder often cannot remember, in proper context, the traumatic experiences they have gone through. The tendency not to remember the experience or event properly is the body's way of protecting by repressing the memories.

Classification of PTSD

There are Four categories of PTSD symptoms classified by the DSM-5. These symptoms allude to traumatic experiences. A collection of related symptoms is present in each of the four categories. They are as follows :

  • Intrusion : The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders adopted the term "re-experiencing symptoms" to denote the patient's complaint of remembering the traumatic event persistently. Whenever intrusion symptoms appear as a recurrent, bothersome, and unpleasant part of the memories, it is always a kind of thing that the individual does not want to retain. It does not come to their minds on intent because it is not a notion that the person wants or desires. Also, it provides a sinking feeling in the mind as one has no control over it, and sometimes certain smells, sounds, and sights create severe anxiety because of the triggers caused by them. Overall, intrusive thoughts are the worst nightmares for humans with PTSD.
  • Avoidance of thoughts and behaviors : When a person is in turmoil, the first thing that comes to mind is to avoid it, either that overwhelming office meeting or having that difficult conversation with your loved ones. Usually, there are two parts of life, where we either fight or avoid certain things, and in most situations, we as fragile beings choose avoidance. Now, if we talk about humans with PTSD, then avoidance is like a temporary antidote to relieve their suffering for a short period. It is like the calm before the storm of people, situations, conversations, and activities that bring up the memories of traumatic experiences. It also includes thoughts, feelings, or physical sensations that recall the event.

    In the long term, avoidance will not work, but with coping skills which do not help any more, it is the best option for humans suffering from this psychiatric disorder before they seek professional help.

  • Negative changes in thoughts and moods : When situations do not favor survival, it is impossible to have positive thoughts or moods. For some time, it might be possible through avoidance or other short-term methods such as substance use or daydreaming that a person with PTSD overcome their misery, but these changing moods and negatives are constant on a long-term basis. These negatives and changing moods may include shame, guilt, anger, or fear. Also, the self-blame tendency becomes contagious, eventually making them feel detached from others. Overall, it is very difficult to feel joy and happiness after going through traumatic events in life. The right help and direction can overcome these feelings and redirect life toward peace and fulfillment.
  • Changes in arousal and reactivity : A person with PTSD is always "on guard" so that any situation or feeling will not trigger them and throw them out of their way. They are like deer in a jungle, always aware of the potential danger. However, as a human, these tendencies come up with other behaviors that are unhealthy to their well-being, such as difficulty in concentrating while doing some important work, heightened startle response even if it is a normal funny prank or situation, impulsivity to get done with things or work and irritability with irregular sleeping habits. As they all are interconnected within our body, one triggers another and makes living difficult for a person.

Overview of symptoms of PTSD

After discussing about the symptoms, it is significant to know about the diagnosis of PTSD. Therefore, according to DSM-5, the first benchmark is the divulgence of one or more traumatic events. It involves real or anticipated severe bodily harm, sexual assault, death, or the danger of death.

It is not evident that the exposure to the event should be direct only as it can be indirect also in the form of witnessing the incident, happening to someone else, or listening to the details of disturbing events, such as a child counselor working with a child with the history of sexual abuse or repeated exposure to distressing news of suicide or self-harm, etc.

DSM-5 gives the outline below for the diagnosis after exposure to any traumatic experience.

DSM-5 PTSD Diagnosis

In order to be diagnosed with PTSD, the following benchmark should be met:

  • Exposure to the traumatic event
  • One or more intrusion symptoms
  • One or more symptoms of avoidance
  • Two or more symptoms of negative changes in feelings and mood
  • Two or more symptoms of changes in arousal or reactivity

These symptoms also must :

  • Last for longer than one month
  • Bring about considerable distress and/or interfere greatly with
  • Several different areas of life
  • Not be due to a medical condition or substance use

Treatment

The last phase of the PTSD journey so far is treatment, and with all the research that happened in the past or happening in the present, it has been proved that PTSD is curable with proper medication and psychotherapy interventions. Sometimes, mental health professionals use both for better and more effective results.

  • Antidepressants such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are considered the most effective medication to treat PTSD. This will help the person regulate mood, sleep, anxiety, and eating behaviors.
  • Furthermore, psychotherapeutic intervention, Cognitive behavioral therapy, Exposure therapy, and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) may help to relieve symptoms by changing the beliefs and behaviors of the person about the situation and circumstances.
  • Other practices such as mindfulness, daily exercise, and support groups will help a person to develop better coping skills in daily life routines.

Conclusion

PTSD is a kind of issue that can occur at any point in time and to any person. Incidents like sexual assault or even natural calamities like earthquakes can happen at any time. Such incidents affect some people very badly, and they are not in a position to come out of such trauma and eventually become victims of PTSD. However, it is permissible to say that life is not always fair to everyone, but it is always our choice to make changes to live well irrespective of bad experiences or circumstances. The journey is always important because the endpoint is always clear in our mortal nature. Therefore, remember to make healthy choices to live a spectacular life.

References

raja
Updated on 13-Oct-2022 11:19:47

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