PTSD- Post traumatic stress disorder
In our everyday lives, any of us can have an experience that is overwhelming, frightening, and beyond our control. We could find ourselves in a car crash, be the victim of an assault, or see an accident, death or something unpleasant.
Most people, in time, get over experiences like this without needing help. In some people, though, traumatic experiences set off a reaction that can last for many months or years. This is called Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
A traumatic event is one where you see that you are in danger, your life is threatened, or where you see other people dying or being injured. It is important that how you have perceived it rather than how the traumatic event is perceived by others. Even hearing about the unexpected injury or violent death of a family member or close friend can start PTSD.
The symptoms must have been present for at least one month and must cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational or other important areas of functioning. There is also a definition for delayed onset when symptoms commence over six months after the traumatic event.
Symptoms that you would expect are
- recurrent and intrusive distressing recollections
- recurrent distressing dreams
- avoidance of reminders of trauma
- markedly diminished interest in significant activities
- detachment or estrangement feeling
- sleep difficulty
- irritability or outbursts of anger.
There are physical and psychological explanations as to why PTSD occurs. Physical explanation involves the role of adrenaline, a hormone in our body and hippocampus, a part of the brain that processes memories. There are various psychological theories that have their own explanations.
How can you say if you have PTSD
Have you experienced a traumatic event of the sort described above?
- have vivid memories, flashbacks or nightmares?
- avoid things that remind you of the event?
- feel emotionally numb at times?
- feel irritable and constantly on edge, but can’t see why?
- eat more than usual, or use more drink or drugs than usual?
- feel out of control of your mood?
- find it more difficult to get on with other people?
- have to keep very busy to cope?
- feel depressed or exhausted?
If it is less than 6 weeks since the traumatic event and these experiences are slowly improving, they may be part of the normal process of adjustment.
If it is more than 6 weeks since the event, and these experiences don’t seem to be getting better, it is worth talking it over with your doctor.
Just as there are both psychological and physical aspects to PTSD, so there are both psychological and physical treatments for it. Please visit a Psychiatrist for a thorough assessment.
Dr Daljeet kaur
Founder of DAWN Healthyminds