Post-traumatic stress Disorder
Post-traumatic stress disorder causes problems with the reoccurrence of disturbing memories, dreams and thoughts that interfere with a normal way of life. This disorder generally develops after long term exposure to a situation of extreme stress, worry or fright, or it can occur after a single event of similar nature. Some people develop PTSD after being involved in situations such as sexual abuse, physical or emotional abuse, witnessing a death or following their participation in a war.
Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
The following is a list of generalized symptoms that one might experience during an episode of post-traumatic stress disorder. Individual symptoms can vary, depending upon the individual and the experience. Some of these symptoms can signify one or more different mental disorders, so further evaluation is recommended for diagnosis.
- Emotional numbness
- Lack of participation in normal, daily activities
- Insomnia or other sleep problems
- Reoccurring memories, flashbacks or nightmares of the triggering event
- Dizziness and cold sweats
- Uncontrollable trembling, shaking or heart palpitations
- Frequent nervousness
- Nausea and gastrointestinal problems
- Nervous or obsessive behavior
Causes of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Some people can suffer trauma in their lives and recover normally. The exact cause for development of post-traumatic stress disorder in certain victims following a disturbing event is not known. Research shows that people with a family history of PTSD or other mental disorder are more susceptible to development of life-altering reactions. It may also become more difficult to recover for people who have a chemical imbalance in the brain. Natural chemicals can be affected when subject to long periods of stress and mental exertion, and also from poor lifestyle habits such as lack of certain vitamins and minerals or insufficient exercise. This imbalance can lead to the loss of ability to control one's emotions or moods, leading to post-traumatic stress.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Diagnosis
Diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder can only be made after specific evaluation. Since symptoms of this disorder are closely related with those of other types of mental illness, an assessment must be made by a professional, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist. If no physical ailments are contributing to the disorder, the patient will normally be asked a series of questions. Answers to questions that relate to the specific incident that may have caused the stress, questions about family medical history and observance of behavior while being questioned will assist the doctor in coming to a diagnosis that fits with the description of post-traumatic stress disorder.
There are several options for effective treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder, and these, too, will vary according to the specifics of the situation. Because some treatment options are more effective for certain individuals, professional advice concerning possible side effects, proper therapy requirements and success rate is recommended. The following are some of the possible choices for treatment:
- Medication is available for reducing symptoms brought on by PTSD. Anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medication can lessen the effects of this disorder and help the patient regain a sense of control and comfort.
- Psychotherapy is available, and this type of counseling assists with the development of a strategy for coping skills in relation to the symptoms of the disorder.
- Cognitive therapy is training by which the patient learns to become aware of the onset of symptoms. Recognition of triggers or stimuli which bring about symptoms can then be corrected or avoided altogether.
- A chemical imbalance can be tested for and corrected not only by medication, but by effective changes in diet and lifestyle, as well.
- Learning relaxation, breathing techniques or meditation can help to lessen certain symptoms and allow the patient to regain a sense of control and focus.
- Support groups may be beneficial by sharing similar experiences with others. This type of sharing can encourage a sense of wellness and helpful exchange.