What is Post-traumatic stress disorder?

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a disorder that develops in some people who have experienced a shocking, frightening, or dangerous event.

It’s normal to feel afraid during and after a traumatic event. Stress triggers many split-second modifications in your system to help guard against danger or to prevent it. This”fight-or-flight” response is a typical response intended to protect someone from harm. Virtually everyone will experience a range of reactions following injury, yet most folks recover from initial symptoms naturally. People who continue to experience difficulties may be diagnosed with PTSD. Individuals who have PTSD might feel stressed or frightened, even if they are not at risk.

Signs and Symptoms

Not every single person develops ongoing (chronic) or short-term (severe ) PTSD. Not everybody with PTSD has been through a dangerous event. Some experiences, like the sudden, unexpected death of a loved one, can also induce PTSD. Symptoms usually begin early, within three weeks of the traumatic incident, but sometimes they begin decades later. Signs need to last more than a month and become severe enough to interfere with relationships or work to be contemplated PTSD. The length of the disease varies. Some people recover within six weeks, but others have symptoms that last more. In some people, the illness becomes chronic.

A doctor with experience helping people with mental illnesses, like a psychiatrist or psychologist, can diagnose PTSD.

To be diagnosed with PTSD, an adult must possess all of the following for at least one month:

  • At one re-experiencing symptom
  • At least one avoidance symptom
  • At least two stimulation and reactivity symptoms
  • At least two cognition and mood symptoms

Re-experiencing symptoms include:

  • Flashbacks–reliving the trauma over and over, such as physical symptoms like a racing
  • heart or sweating
  • Bad dreams
  • Frightening thoughts

Re-experiencing symptoms can cause problems in an individual’s daily routine. The indicators can begin in the individual’s ideas and feelings. Words, things, or situations that are reminders of this event can also trigger re-experiencing symptoms.

Avoidance symptoms include:

Staying away from events, places, or items which are reminders of the traumatic experience
Avoiding thoughts or feelings related to the traumatic event

Things that remind a person of the traumatic event can cause avoidance symptoms. These signs may cause an individual to modify his or her routine. For instance, after an unfortunate car collision, someone who usually drives may avoid driving or riding in a vehicle.

Arousal and reactivity symptoms include:

  • Being easily startled
  • Feeling tense or”on edge.”
  • Having difficulty sleeping
  • Having angry outbursts

Arousal symptoms are usually continuous, rather than being triggered by things that remind one of those traumatic events. These symptoms can make the person feel upset and stressed. They may make it hard to do daily tasks, such as eating, sleeping, or focusing.

Cognition and mood symptoms include:

  • Trouble remembering key features of the event
  • Negative thoughts about oneself or the world
  • Distorted feelings like guilt or blame
  • Loss of interest in enjoyable activities

Cognition and mood symptoms can begin or worsen after the traumatic event but are not due to injury or substance use. These symptoms can make the person feel alienated or detached from friends or family members.

It’s normal to have some of these symptoms after a dangerous event. If people have severe symptoms which go away after a couple of weeks, it’s called acute stress disorder. When the symptoms persist more than a month, critically affect one’s ability to function, and are not due to substance use, medical illness, or anything except the event itself, they may be PTSD. Some individuals with PTSD do not show any symptoms for weeks or months.

Do children react differently than adults?

Children and teenagers can have extreme reactions to injury, but some of the symptoms may not be the same as adults. Symptoms sometimes found in very young children (less than six years old), those signs may include:

Older children and adolescents are more likely to show symptoms similar to those found in adults. They may also create disruptive, disrespectful, or harmful behaviours. Older children and teenagers may feel guilty for not only preventing injury or deaths. They may also have thoughts of revenge.

You might want to read How to Find a Therapist to help you

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