Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that can develop after an individual has experienced the frightening incidents himself, witnessed or been repeatedly exposed to a major trauma.
PTSD is diagnosed after you experience symptoms for at least one month. The main types include like flashbacks, distressing memories or nightmares.
People with PTSD often turn to alcohol or drugs for relief. People with PTSD are more likely to have a personality disorder. They also are more likely to have depression and to abuse substances.
Some trauma cannot be prevented, but it can be a great source of relief to receive counseling and supportive therapy immediately afterward.
The way PTSD is defined has evolved over the last 20 years or more. As research evolves, so does the description of the illness:
PTSD symptoms must seriously affect your ability to function normally at home, work or in social situations.
1. Experiencing intrusive mental images, thoughts or upsetting dreams related to the traumatic event.
2. Feeling as if the trauma is recurring.
3. Having marked anxiety, negative emotions and physical distress (shortness of breath, dizziness, palpitations, sweating).
4. Losing interest in activities that were once enjoyable.
5. Feeling stirred up (having trouble sleeping, being irritable, aggressive, reckless or self-destructive, lacking concentration).
6. Being constantly on guard against danger and feeling easily startled.
7. Feeling detached or disconnected from other people.
8. Believing that your life will be shorter than originally expected.
9. Persistently blaming oneself or others for the trauma.
10. Avoiding all reminders (thoughts, people, conversations, activities) of the trauma.
Treatment can take a long time. Some researchers have found that three quarters of people with PTSD stop treatment.
1. The most common treatment is Prolonged exposure therapy: a person is gradually re-exposed to the trauma in a safe environment through thoughts, feelings and situations which reduces the memory's ability to cause distress.
2. Antidepressant drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), and cognitive behavioral therapy where people learn to better handle distressing thoughts.
3. Certain lifestyle changes and mind-body techniques may also help.
4. Another potential treatment is something called eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). During EMDR, a therapist asks you to recall a traumatic event while you rapidly move your eyes back and forth, experts believe the rapid eye movement during recall changes how the brain files away the trauma memory, so it is less intense when recalled again.
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