Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that’s triggered by experiencing or witnessing a traumatic or extremely stressful event. e.g., rape, robbery, murder, and natural disasters like flooding and earthquakes.
PTSD in adults may also be caused by repeated exposure to violence or trauma. First responders (police officers, firefighters, paramedics, and emergency medical technicians) who respond to crimes, accidents, and emergencies daily, fall under this category.
Anybody can be affected by PTSD — young, old, male, or female. But women are 50% more likely to suffer from PTSD than men.
For a long time, people believed only soldiers and war veterans could suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, but it’s not that way anymore.
Anyone can experience PTSD, and any event causing severe shock and distress can trigger post-traumatic stress, whether emotional or physical.
What are the most common types of trauma that cause PTSD in adults?
People experience PTSD differently. For some people, symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder may start about a month after the traumatic event; but in some cases, they may not set in for years.
Regardless, symptoms of PTSD in adults can cause significant disturbances in their lives, having lasting impacts on their personal and social lives, work, and relationships.
PTSD symptoms in adults are grouped into four categories: avoidance, intrusive memories, negative changes in mood and behavior, and changes in physical and emotional reactions.
When a person displays avoidance symptoms of PTSD, they tend to avoid talking about the event. They also avoid people, places, situations, or things associated with the trauma that may cause distressing memories.
People who display avoidance symptoms try not to remember the event and will avoid sharing how they feel about their trauma. Oftentimes, they pretend it never happened.
Intrusive memories are distressing and unwanted memories of a traumatic event, usually in the form of flashbacks and nightmares. For some people, these intrusive memories are so strong that it feels as though they’re reliving the event.
Intrusive memories may be triggered in people if they see something/someone associated with a traumatic event, visit the place where an incident happened, or find themselves in the same situation that was precursory to the traumatic experience.
Another way that PTSD in adults can manifest is through adverse changes in their mood or behaviour. Mood changes may involve irritability, anger, horror, guilt, depression, hopelessness and suicidal thoughts.
These negative changes can also manifest in the following ways:
This category of symptoms is also known as arousal and reactive symptoms. They include:
Before PTSD in adults can be diagnosed,
Also, in the process of diagnosis, the mental health professional will ask crucial questions and may need your past medical history, so they can get an accurate diagnosis.
Many people with post traumatic stress disorder need professional help to recover from the intense and debilitating psychological they’re going through.
It’s advisable to receive treatment for PTSD as soon as possible; because the earlier you get help, the better your chances of recovery; the faster you’ll recover.
Mental health experts such as psychiatrists, psychotherapists and psychologists use different, effective and research-proven methods to help people with PTSD.
These treatment methods can be broadly categorized into two, and they may be used together or independently — depending on individual needs.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is a category of psychotherapy proven to be effective in treating PTSD. The following are types of CBT used to treat PTSD in adults:
Antidepressants can help to control some of the main symptoms of PTSD in adults, especially the physical ones, like insomnia, nightmares, and anxiety. Medication can be used alone, or together with psychotherapy.
If you think you have PTSD, reach out to a mental health professional immediately. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you need to connect with one, and feel free to ask any questions about PTSD or mental health in general.
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