People often experience situations that make them feel worried or suffer emotional tension. The human body reacts to such situations with a fight or flight response. Examples of experiences that can lead to such responses include rape, child abuse, bombing, torture, mugging, and natural disasters among others. People who fail to manage the trauma caused by these activities suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
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PTSD is classified under anxiety disorders, whose symptoms are not visible until one is exposed to danger. Symptoms of PTSD are identifiable in people with an inability to address the memories and emotions of a traumatic event. There are three categories of PTSD symptoms. PTSD develops when an individual experiences or witnesses a traumatic event. There are numerous treatment options for treating PTSD patients.
According to experts, the treatment offered for this illness helps to do away with the symptoms brought about by trauma. Friends and family members can help a traumatized individual through their challenges by being patient, understanding, and avoiding pressuring one to talk when not ready.
Under normal circumstances, people often experience situations that make them feel worried or suffer emotional tension. These situations put someone in a state of mental and emotional strain because of the natural feeling of fear that accompanies them (Ford, 2009).
The human body has its own mechanisms of managing or addressing such feelings of fear so as to avoid danger. This is commonly called the fight or flight response. The body reacts in a manner that it can either fight the danger or take off to avoid any harm (Wolf & Mosnaim, 1990). In some circumstances, people lack the ability to fabricate this kind of response when they have a traumatic experience. Examples of experiences that can cause trauma include rape, child abuse, a terror campaign, torture, mugging, and natural disasters among others (Georgiou, 2008).
The inability to generate a fight or flight reaction when an individual goes through a traumatic experience is caused by changes in the body. PTSD is defined as a mental condition triggered in an individual who experiences or witnesses a traumatic incident (Oliver, 1993). According to experts, the prevalence rate of PTSD is higher in women compared to men. The reason for this is that men experience events that impact them in a lesser way. In addition, most people who experience traumatic events are less likely to develop PTSD if they receive the support of family and friends in time (Ford, 2009).
Studies have established that PTSD can develop through direct or indirect means. The direct impact is felt by people who experience a traumatic event, while the indirect impact is felt by people who relate to the victims. People who suffer indirect impacts include family members, friends, colleagues, emergency workers, and security officers among others (Dixon, Browne & Hamilton-Giachritsis, 2005).
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PTSD is classified under anxiety disorders, whose symptoms are identifiable when one goes through a traumatic event. According to experts, someone suffering from this disorder is always anxious (Oliver, 1993).
The anxiety is mainly caused by anything that brings back memories of the distress they went through. Studies have established that there are a number of symptoms and features associated with PTSD. In addition, there are several factors that cause this disorder (Georgiou, 2008). Various models explain the manner in which PTSD develops and the various treatment options available.
Symptoms and associated features of PTSD
According to experts, an individual who has experienced a traumatic event often displays certain symptoms that indicate mental instability. This instability is caused by feelings of anxiety, fear, sadness, and disconnection from reality (Oliver, 1993). Symptoms of PTSD are visible in people who fail to release memories and emotions of a traumatic event they went through. Both the body and the mind suffer from shock (Ford, 2009).
According to experts, the symptoms of this disorder show at different times depending on the degree to which an individual has been affected. Some individuals show the symptoms immediately after an event, while in others it happens gradually (Stein, Friedman & Blanco, 1994). Studies have established that there are three categories of PTSD symptoms.
The first category involves symptoms of an individual re-experiencing a traumatic event (Penk, 1989). Re-experiencing a traumatic event happens when someone encounters things, people, or hear stories that remind them of what they went through.
According to experts, some of the common red flags that indicate an individual is re-experiencing a traumatic event include flashbacks, bitter memories, nightmares, tension due to reminders, and strong bodily rejoinders. Traumatized individuals often have flashbacks that make them feel and act as if the distress they went through is happening again (Penk, 1989). This leads to shocks similar to those they suffered when the event occurred for the first time.
Some people experience deeply upsetting dreams of frightening things similar to the trauma they went through. Individuals re-experiencing a traumatic event have strong bodily rejoinders such as heavy breathing, exertion, queasiness, and a throbbing heartbeat whenever they are reminded of the distress they went through (Oliver, 1993).
The second category involves avoidance and numbing symptoms. These symptoms are common in individuals who try to avoid anything that reminds them of the trauma they experienced (Wolf & Mosnaim, 1990). Some of the symptoms under this category include avoidance, poor memory, emotional detachment, and a feeling of having limitations in life.
Someone who has experienced a traumatic event will try to avoid engaging in activities, visiting places, or having thoughts that bring back any memories. Loss of memory, especially on aspects that relate to the trauma is also common among people suffering from PTSD (Wolf & Mosnaim, 1990).
Studies have established that people suffering from PTSD tend to feel emotionally detached from those around them because they consider their case to be an isolated one (Oliver, 1993). Once the sensation of isolation starts to overwhelm a traumatized individual, feelings of life limitations also start to develop. According to experts, one starts to feel like their life is stagnant and cannot manage to achieve their life goals (Penk, 1989).
The third category involves symptoms that indicate increased nervousness and distressing provocation. According to experts, some of the PTSD symptoms under this category include irregular sleep patterns, irritability, concentration lapses, and increased jumpiness. Others include being easily worried and highly vigilant (Wolf & Mosnaim, 1990). Irregular sleeping patterns are characterized by difficulties in either falling or staying asleep for longer periods.
Studies have also established that individuals suffering from PTSD tend to exhibit uncontrolled anger. They are quickly irritated by anyone or anything that brings back the memories of the distress they went through. PTSD patients are also very jumpy and easily startled by anything related to their traumatic experience (Peterson & Biggs, 1997).
Other common symptoms of PTSD include depression, hopelessness, drug abuse, low self-esteem, guilt, and suicidal thoughts among others. Studies have established that the symptoms of PTSD differ depending on factors such as age, nature of trauma, and gender (Oliver, 1993). Children and adolescents are likely to struggle with the reality of a traumatic event in comparison to adults because of their insecure nature and emotional instability (Wolf & Mosnaim, 1990).
Causes of PTSD and its development
According to experts, PTSD develops when an individual experiences trauma. Some of the events that cause PTSD include neglect, sexual abuse, accidents, bullying, military combat, terrorism, and natural disasters among others (Simpson & Simpson, 2000). Studies have established that PTSD can also develop among secondary parties that include people who were not directly involved in a traumatic event.
Although there are not specified causes of PTSD, experts have identified a number of factors that have a higher chance of making someone to develop the illness (Peterson & Biggs, 1997). The disorder develops when two or more predisposing factors combine. Some of these factors include genetic history, life experiences, brain processes, and individual traits, among others (Simpson & Simpson, 2000).
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People inherit certain conditions from their parents, which make them vulnerable to illnesses such as PTSD. Life experiences can also lead to people developing this disorder. This is dependent on factors such as the nature of the event, its severity, and amount of trauma it causes. The events can happen during childhood, adolescence, or even in adulthood (Thornberry, Knight & Lovegrove, 2012).
Although the effects of a traumatic event are similar across various age groups, the severity of the trauma suffered varies (Simpson & Simpson, 2000). Statistics from a study conducted to determine the severity of PTSD established that one in every three people who experience severe trauma in their life end up developing this illness. Personality traits such as short temper can lead to someone suffering from PTSD (Wolf & Mosnaim, 1990).
Anger predisposes an individual to this illness because any form of action such as teasing or bullying makes one re-experience a trauma. Studies have established that PTSD develops differently depending on the causative factor, predisposing elements, the severity of the trauma, as well as age and emotional stability of the affected individual (Geist, 1988).
A number of theoretical frameworks have been used to explain this concept, although none has given a reliable argument. The common one that most people tend to associate with easily is one about chronic pain (Wolf & Mosnaim, 1990). The theory defines pain as a somatic sensation of acute discomfort that often causes emotional distress. In normal circumstances, someone should feel pain for some time before it disappears.
However, it might take longer for this to happen in some people where it becomes recurrent (Thomas & Zimmer-Gembeck, 2012). Such pain lasts for longer periods than expected until someone starts to develop adaptive mechanisms.
The survival mechanisms are chosen by an individual often have effects such as depression, inactivity, fear, nervousness, and irritability, among others. At this point, an individual is always struggling to contain the trauma suffered after an event. This is results in the development of PTSD (Thomas & Zimmer-Gembeck, 2012).
Treatment of PTSD
There are numerous treatment options for dealing with this disorder. According to experts, the treatment offered for this illness helps to address various symptoms brought about by trauma (Wolf & Mosnaim, 1990).
Treatment helps a traumatized individual because it offers an outlet to wipe out all the negative emotions that build up in the body (Adshead, 2000). Studies have established that timely treatment of PTSD helps a traumatized individual regain control of their life and achieve emotional stability. Treatment for this disorder helps a patient to achieve four crucial things (Simpson & Simpson, 2000).
First, treatment helps one to examine their thoughts and feelings regarding the distress they went through. Secondly, treatment helps a patient to deal with the feelings of culpability, self-blame, suspicion, and failure (England, 2009).
Thirdly, the treatment helps a patient in learning the best way of surviving and managing the disturbing memories of the distress they go through (Adshead, 2000). Finally, treatment helps an individual to attend to all the challenges that the illness brings in terms of one’s normal routines and relationships (Adshead, 2000).
Types of treatment for PTSD
Studies have established that there are four major types of treatment options available to PTSD patients. The first type of treatment is called cognitive behavioral therapy (McLean, Deblinger, Atkins, Foa & Ralphe, 1988). This treatment helps a patient to do away with thoughts and feelings regarding the trauma experienced. Once someone experiences a distressing situation, the effects of the trauma are likely to influence his or her behavior in a negative way.
A therapist helps a traumatized individual to identify and deal with fuzzy and absurd thoughts (Griffiths, Wolke & Harwood, 2006). The main focus of a therapist offering this kind of treatment is to help a patient to replace such thoughts with positive ones that can help restore balance in normal routines.
The second type of treatment is called family therapy. According to experts, this treatment plays a crucial role in helping traumatized individuals heal faster because people close to them will be aware of their needs (Peterson & Biggs, 1997).
This form of treatment focuses on secondary parties in a traumatic event such as close friends, family members, and even emergency workers. These are people who are affected by the trauma in an indirect manner (Adshead, 2000). It is important for family members to understand the things that a traumatized individual goes through for the sake of achieving effective communication. Good communication with family members helps a patient to avoid challenges such as poor social skills and feelings of inadequacy (Wolf & Mosnaim, 1990).
The third type of treatment is medication. According to experts, this treatment is good for people who show secondary symptoms of despair (Geist, 1988). Individuals suffering from PTSD are given antidepressants, which help in relieving stress, anxiety, sadness, and nervousness.
However, experts argue that antidepressants are only used to relieve anxiety and cannot be used to treat or eliminate any of the factors that cause PTSD (Geist, 1988). The final type of treatment available to PTSD patients is called eye movement desensitization and reprocessing. According to experts, this type of treatment focuses on restoring cognitive balance in a traumatized individual by using their eye movement (England, 2009). It focuses on helping a patient create a rhythm to help in balancing the brain process.
Studies have established that PTSD patients can apply several tips as a way of dealing with the illness. First, they should ensure that they reach out to other people for moral support and guidance (Corales, 2006). Second, they should restrain from using alcohol and any other drug, especially when under medication.
Third, PTSD patients should always focus on challenging themselves into overcoming negative feelings of helplessness and inadequacy (Simpson & Simpson, 2000). Other tips that PTSD patients can use include engaging in outdoor activities, joining support groups, staying around people with positive energy, and confiding in someone trustworthy among others (Corales, 2006).
PTSD is one of the main challenges that people deal with after a traumatizing event. There are numerous causes of PTSD such as accidents, sexual abuse, bullying, mobbing, neglect, and natural disasters among others. There are numerous symptoms of PTSD that someone ought to look at for in order to establish if a friend or family member is suffering from this disorder. Studies have established that PTSD should be treated as soon as any of the symptoms start to be recognized.
Numerous treatment options are available for patients. Individuals suffering from PTSD are given antidepressants, which help in relieving stress, anxiety, sadness, and nervousness. Friends and family members can help a traumatized individual through their challenges by being patient, understanding, and avoiding pressuring one to talk when not ready. Family members should also avoid taking anything personally and anticipating any PTSD triggers such as anniversaries, which can lead to someone re-experiencing the trauma.
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