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What is PTSD?

by | Jun 5, 2022 | Health

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health issue caused by a terrifying event that is either witnessed or experienced by an individual. The individual with the condition will experience severe anxiety, flashbacks, nightmares, and uncontrollable thoughts based on the event.

The majority of people who experience traumatic events suffer difficulties with coping and adjusting but will usually recover with time. PTSD is diagnosed when the symptoms last for months to years, and they start to interfere with their daily lives.

Getting treatment for PTSD can help a patient return to their normal lives.

Symptoms

Most people who have experienced traumatic events exhibit short-term symptoms of PTSD. Not everyone with PTSD goes through traumatic events. Sudden loss of a loved one may also cause one to develop the condition. Usually, symptoms start to show after 3 months of the traumatic event though it may also manifest years later. The symptoms must last for more than one month and be so severe that they interfere with the person’s daily life. Different people have different recovery times, some take months while others take years to recover.

A psychologist or psychiatrist can diagnose PTSD.

PTSD requires at least the following symptoms for at least a month.

1. At least one avoidance symptom
2. At least two reactivity and arousal symptoms
3. At least two cognition and mood symptoms
4. At least one symptom from the re-experiencing symptom

Avoidance symptoms

1. Trying to avoid feelings or thoughts they associate with the trauma
2. Staying away from events, places, or items that remind the person of the trauma
3. Anything that reminds the subject of the trauma can trigger avoidance symptoms

Reactivity and Arousal symptoms

1. Angry outbursts
2. Difficulty in sleeping
3. Being startled easily
4. Feeling on edge or tense

Mood and cognition symptoms:

1. Distorted feelings of blame and guilt
2. Negative thoughts about the world or yourself
3. Losing interest in activities they used to enjoy
4. Hazy memories of key features of the traumatic event

Re-experiencing symptoms include the following:

1. Bad dreams
2. Scary thoughts
3. Flashbacks which is reliving traumatic events coupled with physical symptoms

These symptoms may interfere with your daily life. Experiencing these symptoms can be triggered by reminders of the traumatic event, such as situations or words that remind them of the event.

These symptoms are usually constantly experienced instead of being triggered.

Mood and cognition may worsen after the traumatic event but are not caused by injury or abuse of substances. Symptoms of this type alienate a person from their family or friends.

Do not be alarmed if you experience these symptoms for the first few weeks after your traumatic event. It’s when your symptoms last longer than a month and are negatively impacting your ability to function that you should worry. You should also be checked by a doctor to ensure there aren’t any other causes for your symptoms.

Some people do not manifest symptoms of PTSD for weeks or months. The disorder also usually comes with substance abuse, depression, and other anxiety-based disorders.

Children’s reactions

Teens and children can have strong reactions to trauma, but their symptoms may be different.

These are symptoms seen in young children who are less than six years old:

1. Bedwetting
2. Becoming mute
3. Acting out traumatic events
4. Being clingy towards adults

Older children and teens usually show symptoms similar to adults.

When to see a doctor?

When you are experiencing disturbing thoughts and feelings relating to a traumatic event for longer than a month. You should also consult a doctor if your symptoms are severe and are preventing you from getting back to your normal routine. Getting treatment quickly can help prevent your symptoms from getting worse.

When to call emergency services?

Have someone watch you should you feel that you might hurt yourself or are thinking about suicide. Call 911 right away or bring yourself to the nearest emergency room when these thoughts occur to save your life.

Causes

You can suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder when you experience or learn about an event that involves death threats or actual death, suffer from sexual crimes, or sustain a serious injury.

Doctors don’t really know why people develop PTSD but there may be factors that may contribute to the diagnosis:

1. Your inherited personality traits called temperament
2. Stressful experiences include severe trauma you have experienced in life.
3. Genetic factors such as your family suffering from mental health issues.
4. How your brain regulates chemicals and the hormones in your body whenever you experience stress.

Risk Factors

Individuals of all ages can experience post-traumatic stress disorder, but some factors may make it more likely a person will develop PTSD.

Here is a list of factors that may increase your chances of getting PTSD:

1. Using illegal substances
2. Not having a good support system
3. Experiencing anxiety and depression
4. Experiencing an intense or extended trauma
5. Having other trauma earlier in life, such as being abused as a child
6. Having family members with mental illnesses
7. Working a job where you may be exposed to traumatic events such as being in the military or being a first responder.

Classifications of traumatic events

Here is a list of the most common occurrences that lead to PTSD:

1. Accidents
2. Sexual violence
3. Physical assault
4. Combat exposure
5. Childhood physical abuse
6. Threatened with a deadly weapon

These are just the most common events that can cause PTSD, but there are many other events not covered in the list. People all have different qualities to them, and what traumatizes one person may not traumatize the other.

Diagnosis

Here are the ways to diagnose Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder:

Get a physical exam to check for problems that may be causing your symptoms.

Psychological evaluation discusses your symptoms and what led to your attack.

Using the DSM-5 published by the American Psychiatric Association.

Diagnosis of PTSD requires you to experience an event or a possibility where death, serious injury, or violence were involved.

Here are the different types of exposure for PTSD

1. Directly experiencing a traumatic event
2. You witnessed something traumatic happen to someone else
3. Being repeatedly exposed to traumatic events like first responders
4. Learning that someone close to you experienced a traumatic event

Treatment

Getting treatment for PTSD can help you regain control of your life. Psychotherapy is often used in conjunction with medication to improve your quality of life.

Here are some benefits of treatment for PTSD:

1. Helping you think positive
2. Learning skills to manage your symptoms
3. Treating conditions such as anxiety and depression
4. Learning coping skills to help you manage your day-to-day

Psychotherapy

This type of therapy will have you visit a therapist to help you develop the necessary skills to cope with your symptoms. You will learn how to control your long-lasting fear to help you go on with your daily activities. There are different types of therapy that may be recommended, and it often takes trial and error to find out what’s right for your case.

Natural Treatments

We do not prescribe pharmaceuticals for PTSD or any other condition. Our clinic uses natural treatments to help you cope with the effects of PTSD. The advantage of taking natural treatments is that it rarely ever causes unpleasant side effects to the patient.

Herbal Formulas

Dr. Cook is very knowledgeable about herbs and can prescribe herbal formulas to combat the symptoms of PTSD. Some of the herbal formulas can help patients keep calm or help them go to sleep which are symptoms of PTSD. Dr. Cook also diligently checks the source of her herbs to ensure they are safe for consumption.

Consultation and examination will be the first part of your treatment with Dr. Cook. The examination will help her identify your state of health and what herbs will help your condition.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture stimulates your acupoints to promote the release of endorphins. These endorphins are natural pain killers that can turn off the stress response and allow feelings of relaxation to the body.

You need not fear the needles because they are so thin you will not feel any pain.

Natural treatments can help you manage the symptoms of PTSD. The good part about natural treatments is that they don’t cause adverse side effects when compared to modern-day pharmaceuticals.

Call Dr. Cook now to set up an appointment for your physical and mental wellbeing.

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