Experiencing or witnessing a life threatening event like war activities, assault, injuries can be extremely traumatic leading to distress, anxiety and upsetting feelings later. The nervous system triggers the fight or flight response as a natural reaction in any dangerous situation. Even in the most serious of cases,the nervous system brings one back to normal. But when the disturbances still makes one vulnerable and makes them relive their memories too frequently, it could be signs of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
War veterans, in addition to PTSD suffer from alienation, isolation, guilt, fear, shame and an undefined amount of hidden rage.
Anyone can suffer from PTSD. Many celebrities like TV host Oprah Winfrey, Hollywood actress Demi Moore, Tennis star Monica Seles, Rolling stones star Mick Jagger, Former US President Abraham Lincoln have taken PTSD treatment.
TV show host and author Oprah Winfrey opened up on her show on being a PTSD survivor while dealing with sexual abuse she suffered as a 9 year old which continued for several years.
Triggers of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder:
PTSD is a psychiatric disorder caused after witnessing traumatic events such as:
- Natural disasters
- Plane / car crashes
- Assault or any form of sexual abuse
- Terrorist attacks
- Sudden death of loved ones
What are the symptoms of PTSD:
People with PTSD show psychological as well as biological changes.
- Becoming upset when confronted with a similar traumatic experience – called a flashback. It seems like the person is actually experiencing the symptoms right in front of their eyes.
- Thinking about the trauma when doing other tasks
- Staying away from the events or places that remind of the event
- Getting isolated from other people, feeling numb
- Getting irritable and weeping easily
- High anxiety levels and nightmares long after the event has occurred
Children with PTSD symptoms of :
- Losing all their acquired skills like toilet training – bed wetting
- Sleep problems
- Fears or phobias unrelated to event (fear of monsters etc)
- Acting the experience through plays or drawings
- Fears of being separated from parent
- Aggressive and irritable behaviour
PTSD is often complicated with other disorders like depression, difficulty in memory and cognition, substance abuse and other physical and mental health problems. The disorder also causes a strain on the social relationships with family and occupational instability that may lead to decreased job performance, marital discord, divorce and parental difficulties.
Treatment for PTSD
Though PTSD is an upsetting experience, it is very important to realize that one can help get out of this situation. There are many ways to get control of your life back again with effective treatments for PTSD. There are various forms of treatment for post traumatic stress disorder. The patient can choose either or all of the methods given below.
- Lifestyle changes :
- Take time to relax. Engage in deep breathing, meditation and yoga exericise to calm the mind. Do regular exercises to relieve stress.
- Avoid drugs and alcohol
- Eat healthy
- Get enough sleep of at least 7-8 hours each night to improve mood
- Connect with your loved ones
- Find a trusted family member or a friend that you can talk about your problems
- Join a PTSD Counselling support group to connect with others and regain your confidence by talking it out in front of an audience.
- It will also make you less socially and emotionally isolate
- PTSD is also treated with antidepressants.
‘Party drug’ for PTSD?
Recently a study has revealed that the party drug Ecstasy is on the way to becoming a prescription drug for treating PTSD after the participants that were part of the study showed marked improvement in its symptoms The drug triggers the release of serotonin and oxytocin that are linked with emotion and happiness. Though the size of the participants was small – 20 , the scientific methods were very vigorously applied for the experiment that has shown remarkable results and very soon it could be used for the treatment of post traumatic stress disorder.
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