Post Traumatic Stress Disorder


Everyone experiences stress and fear at some point in their lives. But sometimes some incidents or events can leave a lasting impact on us. Trauma can induce feelings of intense fear, shock, and sadness among other emotions in us. When we talk about trauma, it would not only entail what happened to us but also the impact it had on a person. Anyone who has undergone traumatic life experiences will naturally feel frightened, overly stressed, overwhelming sadness, shocked, etc. This is a normal and natural reaction in such circumstances but these feelings start subsiding and fading away. The mind and body start returning to a neutral state after a point. But if an individual is experiencing stress responses physically and psychologically, even after they have overcome the stressful situation, then it may be Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.Some of the signs and symptoms of PTSD are as follows:Flashbacks of the incidentUnwanted distressing memories which are not easy to get rid offNegative beliefs about self and othersConstantly experiencing unpleasant emotions while not being able to feel pleasant onesSelf-blameNot feeling connected to self or othersProblems with attention and concentrationEngaging in self-sabotaging behaviorsEasily frightenedFrequent physical or verbal outburstsSleep problemsFor them, feelings of safety may be difficult to achieve as they constantly feel like they are or will soon be in danger and so they are always in the flight or fight mode. That is when your body perceives a threat in your environment and decides to either face it or escape it. Constantly being in this mode can cause hormonal imbalances in the body because when under stress our body releases certain hormones such as cortisol to help us deal with such situations. So this would also mean that the nervous system of the body would be on high alert, and the heart rate and blood pressure would be more than normal, more frequently, and for longer periods which is unhealthy for the body. The symptoms experienced by individuals with PTSD are involuntary reactions and are difficult to understand and deal with, for the person suffering as well as those around them. Feelings of guilt, shame, regret, anger, being on edge, and even numbness. Physical manifestations of PTSD are chest pains, breathlessness, wooziness, gastrointestinal problems, and more.Direct impact on an individual’s physical and emotional health, interpersonal relationships, education, and occupation, essentially every aspect of a person’s life.PTSD makes the parts of the brain change in structure. The causes of PTSD include encountering life-threatening situations and overwhelming fear and stress, either as a victim or a witness. Incidents could include experiencing natural (eg. drought) or man-made disasters (eg. wars), physical/ sexual abuse, racial trauma, road accidents, loss of a loved one, etc. Risk factors also include genetics and family history. Anyone can develop PTSD regardless of age and gender.People who have PTSD are at extremely high risk of engaging in self-harm and suicidal behaviors. They may also engage in unhealthy behaviors such as substance abuse, etc., and are prone to develop other disorders such as depression, anxiety, phobias, etc.Screening for a PTSD diagnosis is done by mental health professionals. The treatment for PTSD usually includes consultation sessions with a psychiatrist for medications as well as psychotherapy sessions with a psychologist. During psychotherapy sessions, individuals are provided with a safe space to talk about and process their trauma, develop healthy coping mechanisms, and ways to tolerate distress such as relaxation exercises, and help in building resources for safety and positive relationships.