HomeHealth A-ZPost-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) - Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

What is PTSD?

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD is a condition concerning one’s mental health that usually develops after a traumatic event leading to harmful and anxious feelings. Sometimes, people who have PTSD can relive the events repeatedly, while others stay away from any reminders of it. If the condition persists for months and years, it can obstruct life, work, and even relationships. However, medication and counselling can help improve the condition over time.

What are the causes of PTSD?

PTSD can be triggered by:

  • Events that have already transpired
  • Events that have happened to someone close 
  • Anything which people witness themselves

Examples include:

  • Severe accidents like car wrecks or train wrecks
  • Natural disasters like floods or earthquakes
  • Man-made tragedies such as bombings, plane crashes, shootings
  • Violent personal assaults such as robbery, rape, torture, kidnapping, or being held in captivity
  • Military combats
  • Childhood abuse

What are the symptoms?

People can experience PTSD within a month or, in certain cases, years after the traumatic event. Some common symptoms of PTSD are:

  • Undesirable or bitter memories of a trauma 
  • Nightmares
  • Evocative memories or flashbacks that make people feel like they are reliving the event
  • A feeling of anxiety, fear, suspicion, or worry
  • Strong reactions when people are reminded of the trauma (or sometimes for no apparent reason at all)
  • Intrusive thoughts about war, death, or killing
  • A feeling of being emotionally disconnected or isolated
  • Losing interest in things once enjoyed
  • A feeling of being agitated, tensed, or easily startled
  • Eruption of anger or irritation
  • Difficulty in concentrating
  • Difficulty falling or staying asleep

The symptoms of PTSD are identical to those of other mental health conditions. Therefore, it is advised to get professional help from a therapist or doctor for diagnosis and PTSD treatments.

What are the risk factors for PTSD?

People of all ages can develop PTSD. However, identifying and tackling them whenever possible can help prevent and reduce the implications of PTSD. Some of the factors that can increase the chances of developing PTSD are as follows:

  • Absence of a family or social support resources
  • Persistent exposure to traumatic conditions
  • Suffering from a personal history of trauma or severe stress or anxiety disorder
  • Family members with PTSD or mental health disorders such as anxiety or depression
  • Displaying personality traits of weakness and lack of resilience
  • Having a history of childhood trauma
  • Suffering from personality disorders or displaying traits, including borderline personality disorder, dependency, paranoia, or antisocial tendencies

How is PTSD diagnosed?

PTSD cannot be diagnosed through scans or blood tests. When people encounter a traumatic event and display signs or symptoms of PTSD, they must talk to a doctor.

The doctor can diagnose the condition  based on conversations with the patient about their symptoms. PTSD is diagnosed when the symptoms last for more than a month and affect their lives.

How is PTSD treated?

A combination of medication and trauma-focused therapy has proved most helpful for PTSD treatments. Certain medications may aid the body in producing more substances that control stress and emotions. They belong to two broad categories:

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (also called SSRIs)
  • Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (also called SNRIs)

Trauma-focused therapy scrutinizes the event and its meaning. Some therapy methods include:

  • Cognitive processing therapy- This method recognizes negative thoughts and beliefs about the traumatic event and attempts to change them.
  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) – The therapist introduces specific sounds or movements when the patient thinks about the event. The goal is to make the event less distressing over time.
  • Prolonged exposure therapy – This method motivates people to deal with the thoughts, feelings, and situations they tend to avoid. People can  talk about the trauma and work towards doing things they have been avoiding.

How does PTSD affect life?

PTSD can affect one’s quality of life and can cause problems such as:

Can Post Traumatic Stress Disorders cause memory loss?

One of the critical symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress disorder is a lack of concentration and focus. Our brain struggles to keep calm amidst the storm of emotions. PTSD can create an overwhelming situation that may lead to memory loss, which begins with confusion and, eventually, memory loss. 

Here is how Post Traumatic Stress Disorders can hamper your brain:

  • Shrinks hippocampus: Hippocampus, an organ in the brain, is responsible for sorting and storing old and new memories. PTSD shrinks this organ by 8 per cent hence leading to memory loss. This also increases nightmares, flashbacks, and anxiety
  • Not limited to a temporary forgetfulness: Memory loss through Post Traumatic Stress Disorders does not limit to occasional forgetfulness. It may last for short, long, or permanent memory loss
  • Prohibits the place to recognize the place or time: Sometimes memory loss may occur to a level where the patient may not interpret the place or the time
  • Memory loss is responsible for difficult sleep: Since PTSD hampers the brain’s working, it brings nightmares, anxiety, and flashbacks in a loop that may cause insomnia

Can PTSD be prevented?

People cannot certainly prevent a traumatic event. However, they can take specific steps that can aid them in the prevention of PTSD, such as:

  • Asking for help and support
  • Having a belief that they can manage their emotions
  • Finding positive meaning from the trauma that they suffered
  • Focusing on positive emotions and laughter
  • Helping other people who have suffered from trauma
  • Embracing positive thinking
  • Being in constant touch with important people in their life
  • Speaking to loved ones about the traumatic event

What are the dietary regulations when suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

Doctors do not prescribe a specific diet for PTSD patients. However, as the symptoms start to show up, they feel more inclined towards fast food and soda. These unhealthy food choices disdain health and cause other diseases, too, apart from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Do’s

  • Have lots of fresh vegetables and fruits
  • Cultivate a healthy snacking habit
  • Maintain a healthy eating pattern

Don’t

  • Stay away from fast food and soda.
  • Cut down your alcohol intake.

Hence opting for a healthy diet can elevate the coping mechanism. Doctors do not prescribe a specific diet for PTSD patients. However, as the symptoms start to show up, they feel more inclined towards fast food and soda. These unhealthy food choices disdain health and cause other diseases, too, apart from Post-Traumatic Stress disorder.

Opting for a healthy lifestyle will always be a good idea; it helps to better your well-being and elevate coping mechanisms. 

Conclusion

Seeking help at the right time can considerably help in improving PTSD or even prevent the chances of developing one. Avoid the misuse of alcohol and drugs at such times, and do not hesitate to seek professional help if needed.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How long will PTSD last?

If the patient does not take help, PTSD can last for the remainder of his life. In some cases leading to depression and complete memory loss. However, treating at the right time will help to cope.

Who is more susceptible to Post Traumatic Stress Disorders?

Women and children are twice as likely as men to suffer from the disease. However, there cannot be any presumptions regarding the human mind.

How can I help someone who has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?

A lot of patience can help you endure such a situation. A loved one not opening up and living in constant trauma can agonize you, but things will be better as the treatment advances.

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