Patient's Complete Guide to Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Overview of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

PTSD or “Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder” (پسِ صدمہ ذہنی و جذباتی دباوٴ چوٹ لگنے یا سخت نفسیاتی دھچکا لگنے سے پیدا ہونے والی حالت) is a serious mental health disorder syndrome that individual experiences after a terrifying traumatic event such as physical abuse, the sudden death of your loved ones, natural disaster, war, criminal scene or dangerous accident, etc. It is also known as shell shock or battle fatigue syndrome. Rate of PTSD is higher in women as compared to men.

Most people who experience the traumatic event show sudden abnormal reactions in response to it like shock, anger, nervousness, fear, and even guilt. These responses are common in PTSD patients but can be removed from their minds as time passes by. If it is not treated properly then their symptoms will go longer than a month.

A person suffer from PTSD due to the crime scene, sexual assault, unexpected death, severe accident, mental problems, childbirth problems, robbery, etc.

Prevalence of PTSD in General Population

According to the statistics, about 60.7% of men and 51.2% of women suffer from PTSD at least once in a lifetime.

Signs and Symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Sometimes a patient with PTSD starts to show their symptoms within 3 months of the incident. Nightmares and flashbacks of that event can either help or worsen the trauma of the patient. 

Person suffering from PTSD show following symptoms:

  • Isolated
  • Touchy 
  • Guilty
  • Sleeping problems (Insomnia) 
  • Concentrating difficulty
  • Physical reactions
  • Emotional distress
  • Memory problems
  • Disconnected from their friends and family
  • Having negative thoughts and mood
  • Hopelessness

These symptoms may prolong and become severe enough and have a significant influence on a person's daily life.

Every individual will show different reactions to their terrifying traumatic effect, depending upon how intense the incident was. What impact did it leave on the victim’s mind? As you know, every person is unique from others, so, their ability to manage fear, trauma and anxiety also act differently.

It is not necessary that if an individual suffers from trauma, then he/she must have PTSD. It’s all matters in their social circle such as family, friends, or relatives. Because close family, friends and relatives are always the strength of the victim. That’s why it varies with them, whether they give strength or make the traumatic individual feel more lonely. If the victim feels alone, it is very difficult for the patient to come out from the bad phase of life.

Types of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

There are three types of PTSD, including:

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder – Develops in the first six months after a trauma, or it can take years.
  • Secondary Trauma - Supporting someone can develop a trauma.
  • Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD) – Complex PTSD involves the personality changes after experiencing trauma, such as suicidal thoughts, feeling of worthlessness, hopelessness, feeling like no one can understand, etc.

Risk Factors of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

PTSD can develop at any age. Many risk factors play an important role in the development of PTSD. These risk factors are:

  • Gender: Both men and women can suffer from PTSD. But women are more prone to PTSD.
  • Childhood trauma
  • Feeling horror, helplessness, or extreme fear
  • Going through a traumatic event that lasts for a longer period of time
  • Having little or no social support after the event
  • Dealing with extra stress after the event, such as loss of a loved one, pain and injury, or loss of a job or home
  • Having a history of mental illness or substance use

Health Complications of PTSD

PTSD can lead to many problems and affect many aspects of your life differently. It might be your job or health that can be affected by PTSD. Many mental health problems can be caused by PTSD, such as:

  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Use of substances
  • Eating disorders
  • Suicide attempts
  • Depression and anxiety

Prevention

Doctors describe that early treatment of PTSD can reduce the symptoms or can reduce all of its effects.

Diagnosis

A neurologist, psychologist or psychiatrist evaluates the patients firstly by taking the complete medical history and physical examination. Generally, there is no defined diagnosis method for PTSD as it varies according to the incident that a patient has suffered from.  But healthcare professionals may recommend a CT scan and MRI of the brain to detect the state of mind. It helps them to know whether the brain is functioning properly or not.

PTSD can be successfully treated, even if it develops after many years of the traumatic incident.

Treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) | When to Consult a Doctor

A neurologist, psychologist, or psychiatrist is responsible for treating PTSD. Following are the PTSD treatment method and follow-ups:

  • Monitoring – Your doctor will evaluate and monitor the symptoms to see whether they have improved or gotten worse during the treatment.  Patient counselling is the first and most important factor in PTSD treatment.

  • Antidepressants – Helps to reduce stress, such as paroxetine or mirtazapine that are the most effective.

  • Psychological Therapies – Such as trauma-focused cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is used for the treatment.

(Note: it is important not to use any medications without a doctor’s consultation.)

 

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