Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a severe, sometimes debilitating mental health condition prevalent in people who have been exposed to traumatic, life-threatening situations such as military conflict, natural disasters, physical or sexual assault, and major accidents. People who experience PTSD tend to develop intense fear, recurrent distressing memories of the traumatic event, upsetting dreams or nightmares, flashbacks, and other forms of emotional or physical distress triggered by memories of the traumatic event. Other common symptoms include symptoms of avoidance (e.g., trying to avoid thinking or talking about the traumatic event or people, places, or activities that trigger memories of the event), as well as being easily startled or frightened and always being on guard for danger. For individuals with PTSD, it is common to experience self-destructive thoughts, irritability, angry outbursts, or aggressive behavior. It is important to highlight that PTSD is not exclusive to people exposed to military conflict.
Did you know . . .
Approximately 80% of rape victim develop PTSD-like symptoms compared to only 12% of accident victims. Individuals with PTSD have a high rate of other psychiatric conditions, including major depressive disorders and substance abuse.
Frequently Asked Questions
Could I need treatment for PTSD?
If you experience any of the mentioned symptoms, especially ones that affect your ability to function, then you should see a psychiatrist or licensed mental health professional. If you have experienced the symptoms for fewer than a month, then you could be diagnosed with Acute Stress Disorder. By contrast, if the symptoms have persisted for more than a month, then a diagnosed of PTSD is more likely. Acute Stress Disorder and PTSD should always be treated in order to avoid the worsening of symptoms or related disorders, including Clinical depression ( Major Depressive Disorder).
What should I expect from PTSD treatment?
You and your doctor will work together to identify any symptom-causing triggers, including severe stress, previous trauma, or exposure to life-threatening events. Based on the cause and severity of symptoms, you will begin treatment designed to help you to manage your symptoms and improve your quality of life. Your treatment might include a combination of medications and psychotherapy, including Cognitive–behavioral therapy (CBT) or Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral therapy (TF-CBT).
Will I need to make any lifestyle changes to facilitate PTSD management?
Since PTSD symptoms can worsen due to lifestyle choices, including excessive alcohol consumption and substance abuse, your doctor might advise you to minimize your drinking, if not to stop drinking altogether. Your doctor might also recommend that you get more exercise and reduce your stress.
If you want to learn more about PTSD and other common psychiatric conditions, then please call Compassion Mental Health Services (CMHS) today or visit our facilities to arrange a confidential mental health consultation.