Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a serious mental health condition caused by a bypassed event that was traumatic and damaging. Individuals with PTSD don’t always know that they have this condition. The traumatic event that first causes PTSD in a person isn’t always remembered or processed. The brain does this to protect the person from awful and painful memories. However, subconsciously, a person may still react to the stressor or trigger without knowing.
People with PTSD may react to a trigger or stressor with an episode where they display the symptoms of PTSD. These attacks can last minutes to hours. In order for PTSD to classify as a disorder, it must happen at least twice.
The only cause for PTSD is a traumatic or stressful memory. This experience is traumatizing enough to leave a person with symptoms that can last a lifetime. Memories or things that reference the experience can trigger a PTSD episode.
The symptoms vary depending on the situation and each person. Since PTSD is a very personal mental health condition with triggers that depend on the experience, not all attacks or episodes look alike. However, experts have found that people with PTSD have these common symptoms:
- Mood Swings
- Anxiety Attacks
- Trouble Sleeping
Symptoms that worsen over time can be problematic. People around loved ones that have experienced something traumatic, or damaging should look out for the symptoms. If they worsen, it can make it difficult for someone to live a healthy and normal life. For example, people who have PTSD from a car accident may harm their quality of life by refusing to ever want to enter a car again. While this is not life-threatening, it makes it difficult to travel or look for jobs to earn money.
Only a trained psychiatrist can diagnose a person with PTSD. If you notice any of the symptoms above in your own daily life, you can also call to schedule an appointment with your doctor. While general practitioners may not be experts in mental health, they can refer you to an expert that can further help you.
There is no diagnostic test for many mental health conditions, including PTSD. Instead, your psychiatrist will start by asking some screening questions to determine if you have the condition and if it is severe. Much of the diagnostic step is through talking and interpretations.
Psychiatrists may also recommend patients bring in a journal to write down their thoughts and where their PTSD episodes occur. This is also a form of treatment but can aid in diagnosis as it shows that the person experiences the episodes often.
How PTSD is Treated?
Like other mental health disorders, there are two main ways to treat or manage PTSD, medication, and psychotherapy. You do not have to suffer alone. There are many mental health resources available for people with PTDF. For instance, for people who suffer from the condition and no longer have control of their life, doctors may prescribe medications like antidepressants which result in a decrease of depression and anxiety as well as concentration.
You may also use psychotherapy with a trained psychiatrist. Medical professionals can talk to you in sessions to understand and further get to the bottom of your PTSD. Since there is a trigger and an experience that resulted in PTSD, it is important to treat the cause. This way, it is unlikely that you will experience another trigger or episode.
During these sessions, you and your psychiatrist can go through real-world scenarios and find solutions to strive for. This helps in overcoming the PTSD experience that resulted in the mental health condition.
- Is there an age group prone to developing PTSD? No! There are limited risks for developing PTSD. Anyone at any age can develop this mental health condition. The only cause is a traumatic experience that may occur at any time.
- Is it necessary to talk to a therapist? Not always! Every person has their own treatment plan that works for them. Some people overcome their PTSD with medication and their own lifestyle changes.
- Does PTSD last forever? It depends, but it shouldn’t. With proper training, it is unlikely that PTSD will not go away.
Healthier Me Today is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment, always consult with your healthcare professional. Stay healthy!