Many people who go through a traumatic event have a difficulty adjusting and coping with normal life for a while but they do not necessarily have post traumatic stress disorder. If the symptoms get worse, may last for months or years and interfere with normal functioning then it is an illness known as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Physiology Behind PTSD: When a person is in danger or is experiencing a traumatic event like death of a loved one it is natural to feel afraid and stressed out. This fear triggers changes in the body that can help oneself to defend or avoid the danger situation. This ‘fight or flight’ response is a normal healthy physiological response of the human body but in PTSD this response gets changed or damaged. The person with PTSD may have suffered a harm to oneself or have seen a harm done to a loved one or even strangers but now when he/she is no more in the danger situation still they have feelings of being stressed and frightened.
How Was This Condition known in Medical Science: PTSD was first brought in and discovered in relation to the condition of war veterans who have been in the war or in a prison and then could not recover the feelings of fright and stress they have been through. Now it is known that it can occur following a variety of traumatic events like mugging, rape, torture, kidnapping, car accidents, bombings, plane crashes, earthquakes etc.
Signs And Symptoms: A patient suffering from a post traumatic stress disorder may experience:
- Flash backs of the event again and again
- Physical symptoms of racing heart and sweating with the flash backs.
- Nightmare and upsetting dreams
- Severe emotional distress.
- Frightening thoughts
- Staying away from places or persons that may remind of that event.
- Feelings of strong guilt and depression
- Inability to have positive feelings.
- Trouble sleeping
- Always being on guard for a coming danger
- Easily startled.
- At least one symptom of re experiencing the event like flash backs, bad dreams or frightening thoughts
- At least three symptom of avoiding the situation that may remind the event, feeling numb, feelings of depression and guilt , trouble remembering and talking about the event and losing activities that were giving pleasure in the past.
- At least two of the hyperarousal symptoms of getting being startled easily, feeling tense and being on the end and problems with going to sleep.
1. Psychotherapy: Talking with a mental health professional helps and a therapist may help guide the patient how to avoid the symptoms and come back to living a normal life again. It helps in overcoming the negative thoughts and thinking in a more positive way. Also controlled exposure to the things and events that are leading to stress and fright helps in gradually able to cope with the situation. Sometimes the psychotherapist helps the patient look to the past memories in a healthier ways and so prevents form the emotional distress associated with the event.
2. Support From friends ,Family And Support Groups: Understanding friends and family members can help go through the difficult time and cope up with the situation making the patient feel better about the present and the future.
3. Medications: Antidepressant sertraline and paraoxitine are proved to be useful in patients with PTSD. They help control the symptoms of sadness, anger and worry. Other medicines that may help are benzodiazepines that may help going to sleep etc.