Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a debilitating condition that can develop following a trauma or terrifying event. PTSD was first recognized and brought to public attention by war veterans. Any traumatic or violent event such as rape, torture, mugging, being kidnapped, child abuse or serious accidents and natural disasters can trigger PTSD in a person. The event that triggers PTSD may be something that threatened the person’s life or the life of someone close to them. It can also be triggered by witnessing something traumatic such as a plane crash or an explosion that causes massive deaths.
A person with PTSD will have persistent frightening thoughts and memories of the traumatic event and will feel emotionally numb, especially with people they were once close too in their life. Some people experience the trauma over again repeatedly in the form of nightmares, flashbacks or disturbing recollections during the day. They may also experience a feeling of being detached or numb, sleep problems or an exaggerated startle response. They may have trouble feeling affection and lose interest in things they once enjoyed. They may feel irritable and sometimes get aggressive or violent. They may avoid certain places or situations that bring back the distressing memories of the trauma and the anniversaries of the traumatic event can be difficult for them.
PTSD is often accompanied by depression, anxiety or substance abuse. A person with PTSD may have trouble working or in social situations. The symptoms may be worse if the trauma was deliberately initiated by anther person such as a kidnapping, rape or torture. Not every traumatized person gets PTSD or the full-blown PTSD. The symptoms have to last more than a month and usually develop within 3 months of the trauma. The course of PTSD can vary. A person can recovery within 6 months or the symptoms can last much longer and become a chronic condition. Occasionally the symptoms of PTSD do not show up until years after the trauma has occured.
Most people with PTSD are helped with medication and psychotherapy which will be discussed here in a subsequent posting.