After going through a traumatic experience, most people will have a hard time adjusting and coping, but with time, they may start to feel better. However, some will continue to experience severe anxiety and dread for months in the aftermath of a traumatic experience, leading to PTSD.
PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, is commonplace among communities all over the globe. In the US, research shows that nearly 12 million adults have post-traumatic stress disorder in any given year.
People with PTSD often relive their trauma through nightmares and flashbacks. They may also feel disconnected from friends and family, experience negative changes in their thinking and mood, or develop unhealthy coping mechanisms such as substance abuse.
Untreated PTSD can last for months or years and severely affect a person’s ability to live a normal, healthy life. It’s advisable to seek medical treatments as soon as possible if you suspect you may have PTSD.
At the very core, PTSD is a complex mental illness caused by witnessing or experiencing a traumatizing or life-threatening event. While it is most commonly associated with combat veterans, PTSD can result from any number of traumatic events, including but not limited to:
- Domestic abuse
- Serious accidents
- Natural disasters
- Terrorist attacks and hostage situation
- Combat experiences
- Childhood abuse
- Terrorist attacks
- Serious accidents, such as car crashes
- Natural disasters, such as hurricanes or earthquakes
Symptoms of PTSD
PTSD symptoms are generally categorized into four groups; intrusive thoughts and memories, avoidance, negative changes in thinking and mood, and changes in physical and emotional reactions.
Also known as re-experiencing symptoms, intrusive memories mainly manifest as flashbacks, visions, or nightmares. These experiences can be so vivid and intense that people feel like they’re going through the original traumatic experience again. Intrusive memories are one of the most common symptoms of PTSD.
Avoidance symptoms are when people try to avoid anything that reminds them of the trauma they experienced. They may avoid people, places, thoughts, conversations, or situations that bring back those memories. For example, someone who was involved in a car accident may avoid driving or getting in a car altogether.
Negative Changes in Thinking and Mood
This includes things like persistent sadness, hopelessness, feeling emotionally numb, or having trouble remembering details about the trauma. A person with PTSD may also experience anger, irritability, and anxiety.
Changes in Physical and Emotional Reactions
A person with PTSD may startle easily, have trouble sleeping, or feel tense and on edge at all times. They may also have difficulty concentrating or experience outbursts of anger.
Other common symptoms may include guilt, depression, anxiety attacks, aggressive behavior, and suicidal ideations or thoughts of self-harm. Some people may also try to numb their feelings and emotions by self-medicating with drugs or alcohol, leading to substance abuse problems.
If you experience several or all of the above symptoms for more than a month after a traumatic experience or if the symptoms worsen and begin to interfere with your work or personal life – it’s best to seek professional help.
PTSD is a very serious anxiety disorder that can have long-lasting effects if left untreated. Luckily, there are several proven treatments that can help manage the symptoms and help you work through trauma, so don’t hesitate to reach out for help. With proper treatment and care, you can live a happy, healthy, and productive life.