Image Is courtesy of Nami.
What is PTSD?
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a state of mind and emotional reply to a serious and terrifying encounter that may have caused severe injury to an individual involved. Images, feelings, and visions of these events can have a significant impact on the person, even after an extended period of time from the actual event. The disorder was formerly known as “shell shock” and “battle fatigue” as it was often displayed in war veterans. Normally, the “fight or flight” response kicks in when these flashes of mood and vision occur. PTSD affects the daily life of the person involved and prevents them from leading a normal life as a result of the symptoms associated with the disorder.
Image is courtesy of Everydayhealth.
According to NIM, PTSD can be caused by different life events, as no one individual is alike. Not everyone that experiences a traumatic experience will develop PTSD. Everyone’s experience with PTSD can be different depending also on their living environment, which may play a role in how long one may live with the symptoms. If one is actively seeking help and is around people that make them feel secure and safe then the duration of their symptoms of the disorder may be significantly lower than one that shuts themselves away from others, according to WEBMD. A few examples that may cause PTSD are a death in the family, a car crash, a war, and a deadly shooting, as stated by NIM. All of these examples may leave the person involved with the disorder as a result of their experience in the situation.
The symptoms of PTSD generally occur within three months of the traumatic experience, however, they can also occur within the coming months/years, according to CAMH . As indicated by NIM to be diagnosed with PTSD, one must have the following symptoms for a minimum of one month:
A re-experiencing symptom
An avoidance symptom
Two arousal and reactivity symptoms
Two cognitions and mood symptoms
A re-experiencing symptom is a symptom where one is having flashbacks, nightmares, and bad thoughts about the traumatic experience. Words, images, and items may trigger a psychological response to the traumatic event, according to WEBMD. It generally feels as if oneself is re-experiencing the event and as a result, is left shaken. For example, a war veteran walking through the butcher shop may feel as if he is back on the front lines in the hospital being treated for his injury. According to NIM, an avoidance symptom is a symptom where one avoids locations, events, and items that remind them of the traumatic event. An example of an avoidance symptom is where a car crash survivor avoids the intersection of the accident that left him disabled. As provided by NIM, a rousal and reactivity symptoms are related to emotions of oneself. Someone that has been in an active shooter incident may feel on edge most of the time or may be nervous about crowds. Lastly, cognition and mood symptoms are symptoms that worsen after the event. Examples are forgetting details related to the event, distancing from family, substance use, and depression. These symptoms are caused by the traumatic event itself and not any external factor.
A physician, psychiatrist, or psychologist can only diagnose oneself with PTSD, according to NIM. This is often done by conducting a medical examination or a list of activities to determine the cause of the symptoms discussed.
Image is courtesy of Everydayhealth.
Once diagnosed with PTSD, there is a range of treatment methods that may be carried out. A physician may prescribe medication to treat symptoms such as depression or sleep issues, according to CAMH. Medications that are prescribed are usually antidepressants for individuals diagnosed with PTSD. As stated by Healthline psychiatrist may carry out group therapy sessions that are found to be very beneficial for PTSD. Talking about the problem itself helps diagnose key details that may be causing the symptoms that greatly affect oneself. Group therapy also helps talk about the event in a positive welcoming environment. According to the same article, other treatment methods include: talking to a family member, taking up a new activity, and taking a break from work to clear one’s head.
There are also places in the city that offer free resources and activities for people with mental health disorders. Also according to the aforementioned Healthline article, these places are community centres, settlement agencies, shelters, religious centres, and mental health centres.
Help is always available to those who ask for it.
“PTSD: It’s not the person refusing to let go of the past, but the past refusing to let go of the person. When we feel weak, we drop our heads on the shoulders of others.”
Article Author: Fariah Sandhu
Article Editors: Stephanie Sahadeo, Sherilyn Wen