Mental illness conditions affect millions of people worldwide each year, and they tend to have pretty devastating effects on the quality of life the affected individuals can lead. Generally, mental illness conditions occur more frequently due to substance abuse, genetics, or even “environmental” factors such as financial complications, the death of a loved one, and so on. However, you should know that mental illness conditions can also develop in individuals when exposed to some particular activities or scenarios. One such mental health disorder is Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. Read on to discover what post-traumatic stress disorder is, why it occurs, and some of its symptoms.
If you see a lot of action movies, you’ll have certainly heard mention of post-traumatic stress disorder more than a few times. There is a lot of PTSD mention in action movies, so some people have the notion or belief that PTSD is a strictly combat-experience mental disorder. In actuality, however, PTSD occurrence isn’t restricted to just combat veterans, and pretty much anyone can develop PTSD upon exposure to traumatic events.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) develops when individuals are exposed to a traumatic situation or event such as a serious accident, sexual violence, or natural disaster. PTSD episodes manifest when the affected individual is triggered by a particular thing (could be a saying, color, place, e.t.c.), and these episodes usually leave affected individuals unable to function properly. Instead, they begin reliving their traumatic event again, and their bodies respond as though the event were occurring in real time.
Now it should be said that fear and restlessness are natural body responses to traumatic events. In fact, when an individual is exposed to a threatening or traumatic situation, the body’s flight-or-fight response system kicks in. This flight-or-fight body response is meant to be helpful as it helps boost thinking speed and response time for a short period. In the case of post-traumatic stress disorder, however, affected individuals keep feeling flight-or-fight symptoms like fear, restlessness, and anxiety long after their exposure to the traumatic incident.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is often characterized by a host of unpleasant symptoms that more or less interfere with the ability of the affected individual to function properly. It is worth mentioning that although PTSD symptoms usually manifest within four weeks following the traumatic event, this isn’t always the case. Some individuals may not begin to experience the symptoms of PTSD until after several years.
You should also know that many PTSD symptoms and symptoms felt or observed usually differ with respect to the affected individual. That being said, note that there are four general categories of PTSD symptoms. They include:
People experiencing the symptoms of intrusive memories often consider or worry about the traumatic events, even when they do not want to. Examples of intrusive memories symptoms include:
Avoidance symptoms more or less refer to the affected individuals actively refusing to talk or think about the traumatic event they went through. These individuals will even go as far as outrightly avoiding locations or activities that serve as PTSD episode triggers.
PTSD symptoms also include the manifestation of negative moods and emotions such as grief, hopelessness, inability to focus, feelings of depression, and detachment. People with PTSD also find it pretty challenging to maintain relationships and express positive emotions.
This symptom category contains some of the most diagnostic symptoms of PTSD. PTSD usually has significant effects on the behavior and emotion of affected individuals to the point where normal functioning becomes impossible. Symptoms in this category include the following:
In addition to the above, people who have PTSD may also experience symptoms such as stomach disturbances, aches, dizziness, chest pain, and a weakened immune system.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder has been discovered to be mainly caused by exposure to traumatic events. Examples of traumatic events that can lead to PTSD include the following:
Basically, any situation that can lead to the manifestation of feelings of fear and helplessness can result in post-traumatic stress disorder.
Because PTSD is mostly linked with “violent” situations, people frequently exposed to dangerous situations are more likely to develop PTSD. This explains why it is one of the most commonly-occurring mental health conditions among soldiers. First responders like firefighters are also at a high risk of developing PTSD.
You should know that not every PTSD case results from a violent situation. Sometimes, people develop PTSD when a loved one is exposed to danger or dies suddenly. Other PTSD risk factors include the following:
PTSD treatment usually involves the use of medications or psychotherapy or even both in some cases. Research has shown that patients stand a better chance of recovery from PTSD when these two treatment approaches are integrated and used together.
Medications: Antidepressants are the first line of mediation treatment for PTSD. These antidepressants are used to control PTSD symptoms like insomnia, anxiety, and grief.
Psychotherapy: During psychotherapy, patients work with a qualified mental health professional to learn the root cause of their PTSD condition. They’ll also learn how to identify PTSD triggers and develop effective coping mechanisms.
Although the combination of antidepressants and psychotherapy has proved effective in providing patients with relief from PTSD symptoms, they do have pretty significant demerits. For example, antidepressants take a long time (weeks or even months) before patients feel their effects. This means that individuals who have PTSD will have to keep experiencing unpleasant symptoms of the condition for long periods until the effects of the antidepressant kick in.
There is also the fact that these antidepressant medications are known to cause pretty severe health effects like seizures. Some even have a high addiction-causing ability meaning their users also risk developing substance abuse conditions. This is why in recent times, more and more treatment centers are switching to psychedelics-assisted therapy for PTSD treatment. For more information about psychedelics-assisted treatment and why it’s better than conventional treatment approaches, click here.