Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Experiencing or witnessing a terrifying event can lead to recurrent flashbacks and detachment...
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that's triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it.
PTSD can occur in all people, of any ethnicity, nationality or culture, and at any age, most often occurring in people who have experienced a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist act, war/combat, or sexual violence. Women are twice as likely as men to have PTSD and an estimated 1 in 11 people will be diagnosed in their lifetime.
People with PTSD have intense, disturbing thoughts and feelings related to their experience and lasting long after the traumatic event is finished. They often relive the event through flashbacks, and may feel sadness, fear, anger or detachment from other people. People with PTSD may have strong negative reactions to things as ordinary as loud noises or an accidental touch.
Symptoms of PTSD fall into 4 categories and can vary in severity.
Intrusive thoughts such as involuntary memories, distressing dreams, or flashbacks of the traumatic event may be so vivid that people feel they are re-living the traumatic experience again.
- Recurrent and unwanted distressing memories
- Reliving the traumatic event as if it were happening again (flashbacks)
- Upsetting dreams or nightmares
Avoiding reminders of the traumatic event may include avoiding people, places, activities, and situations that may trigger distressing memories.
- Trying to avoid thinking or talking about the traumatic event
- Avoiding places, activities or people that remind you of the traumatic event
- Resisting talking about what happened or how they feel about it
- Alterations in Cognition and Mood
Inability to remember important aspects of the traumatic event, and negative and distorted feelings leading to wrongly blaming oneself and have ongoing fear, anger, guilt, or shame.
- Negative thoughts about yourself, other people, or the world
- Hopelessness about the future
- Memory problems
- Difficulty maintaining close relationships
- Lack of interest in activities you once enjoyed
- Difficulty experiencing positive emotions
- Feeling emotionally numb
- Alterations in Physical & Emotional Reactions
Symptoms may include being irritable, having angry outbursts, behaving in a self-destructive way, being easily startled, or having problems concentrating or sleeping.
- Irritability, angry outbursts or aggressive behavior
- Being easily startled or frightened
- Always being on guard for danger
- Self-destructive behavior - such as drinking too much or driving too fast
- Trouble sleeping
- Trouble concentrating
- Overwhelming guilt or shame
To be diagnosed with PTSD, an adult must have all of the following for at least 1 month:
- At least one intrusion symptom
- At least one avoidance symptom
- At least two cognition and mood symptoms
- At least two physical & emotional reactions symptoms
Some factors that may promote recovery after trauma include:
- Seeking out support from friends and family
- Finding a support group after a traumatic event
- Learning to feel good about one’s own actions in the face of danger
- Having a positive coping strategy to learn from negative events
- Being able to act and respond effectively despite feeling fear
When To Seek Help
If you have disturbing thoughts and feelings about a traumatic event for more than a month, if they're severe, or if you’re having trouble getting your life back under control, please give us a call.
Getting treatment as soon as possible can help prevent PTSD symptoms from getting worse.