PTSD : Types, Causes, Signs, Symptoms, Treatment, When Can It Occur

It is extremely normal to feel sad, frightened, anxious, and disconnected when someone goes through a traumatic experience. However, if the situation does not fade away from the memory then you are probably suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD. It may seem like the person will never get out of the situation for a brief period. The disorder of PTSD can be tackled if one seeks help and looks out for support. Developing new skills and coping up with the entire thing is the only solution at such times.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD can be treated by seeking proper treatment and move on with all the daily chores.

What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD?

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD is a boundless consequence of various traumatic situations like unexpected death of a close one, accident, war or natural disaster. The victims’ family as well as other people who are in constant contact with them can also develop this disorder. The symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD can last for a month or longer.

What are the Types of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD?

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD May Be Categorized Into Five Main Sections:

  1. Normal stress response.
  2. Acute stress disorder.
  3. Uncomplicated Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD.
  4. Comorbid Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD.
  5. Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD.

Causes of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD

The occurrence of post-traumatic stress disorder is seen when a person goes through or sees certain things that are life threatening and can also be related to sexual violation.

However, the actual cause of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD cannot be determined. PTSD can be caused by a complex blend of the following experiences and other mental issues:

  • The mental health of a person which includes depression and anxiety.
  • Various life experiences and the trauma, which a person goes through during his or her childhood days.
  • A person’s temperament, which is a result of various, related traumas.
  • The regulation of hormones and chemicals in the body as well as brain when a person is subjected to some stressful situations.

When Is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD Most Likely to Occur?

If you have been a part of any traumatic situation, you are likely to develop a Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A trauma can be defined as a life threatening or some scary situation, which takes place in a person’s life. At such times, a person who has this disorder will feel the need of saving another person’s life including his or her own life.

In USA, Trauma is experienced in 6 out of every 10 men and 5 out of every 10 women. Women are, however, more prone to suffer from this disorder as there are times when they experience sexual assault and child abuse. Men, on the other hand, often suffer from this disorder sure to disaster or various other accidents including death.

Suffering from mere trauma does not mean that you are a sufferer of PTSD. Nevertheless, if the trauma is not handled at the right time and in a proper way, it may develop into Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD.

Risk Factors for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder can be observed in people of all ages. Following traumatic events may be a cause for development of such disorder:

  • Being a part of an intense or long traumatic situations can lead to PTSD
  • Experiencing various other traumatic situations including child abuse or neglect can cause Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD
  • Fight responders and military personnel can also be prone to developing PTSD as they are a part of various traumatic scenes
  • Anxiety or depression can also result in PTSD
  • Less or lack of support from family and friends
  • Various biological reasons.

Kinds of Traumatic Events That Can Lead PTSD:

Below mentioned are the most common situations, which lead to PTSD:

  • Physical abuse and Childhood neglect
  • Being threatened with a weapon
  • Physical attack
  • Combat exposure
  • Sexual assault

Signs and Symptoms for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD

Symptoms of PTSD will begin occurring within three months from the occurrence of traumatic events. However, the duration and the severity of the illness may vary from person to person. The recovery period in some people may be for 6 months while in some it can last longer.

The symptoms of PTSD can be grouped into the following major categories:

  • Relieving: People who are suffering from PTSD often relive the moments through a thought process or relating to the memories. Hallucinations, nightmares and flashbacks are a part of this process.
  • Avoiding: PTSD patients may avoid various places, thoughts as well as situation that remind them of the event. Desolation and staying aloof may be one of the major symptoms observed at such times.
  • Increased Arousal: Irritability, getting easily startled, excessive sleeping and lack of concentration are included in this category of symptoms. Along with this, there may be other associated physical symptoms like palpitation, muscle tension and nausea. Children might suffer from under developed motor skills and lack of learning as well.

Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD in Children

The PTSD symptoms in children and adult may vary greatly. Children may show the following symptoms of PTSD:

  • Fear of parental separation
  • Loss of pre-developed skills
  • Vague thoughts that often lead to insomnia
  • Somber instances in which the traumatic situation is repeated.
  • Anxieties and phobias that are not related to the situation
  • Depicting the situation that involves trauma through drawings, writings.

Tests to Diagnose Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD

The diagnosis of PTSD cannot be determined until a month after the occurrence of a traumatic event. If the doctor notices the symptoms that are related to the disorder, he may evaluate all the necessary methods through physical examination. However, there are no specific lab tests associated with the diagnosis; the doctors may suggest various means to rule out the symptoms effectively.

The PTSD patient may be referred to a psychologist, psychiatrist and other mental health physicians who are trained to treat the mental illness. The mental health counselors design certain means through which the disorder can be diagnosed easily. However, all these symptoms can only be speculated if they occur after a month or so.

Treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD

The primary motive for treating PTSD is to reduce the physical and emotional symptoms and improve the functionality of a person’s behavior. Through effective treatment, a person will learn to cope up with the daily stressful situations. The treatment of PTSD may involve medication as well as counseling or a combination of both.

Medications for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD

To control anxiety and depression in the patients, the antidepressant medications may be used by the medical counselors. Serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) like Prozac, Celexa, Zoloft, Luvox and Paxil will be used for bringing the symptoms under control. Additionally, tricyclic antidepressants like Doxepin and Elavil may also be used for the treatment. Apart from all these drugs, some strong tranquilizers and mood stabilizers will be prescribed by the doctor for the patient suffering from PTSD. Prazosin and Propranolol may be also used for combating the occurrence of traumatic memories.

Psychotherapy for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD

Treatment for PTSD also involves psychotherapy, which will help a person to manage the symptoms and learn to cope with them easily. This therapy involves teaching a person along with the family about the cause of PTSD and help in tackling the fears in a group. Various sessions will be arranged by the doctor that will treat the disorder and bring down the level of symptoms as well. A combination of Psychodynamic therapy, EMDR Therapy, Cognitive behavioral therapy, Family Therapy, Exposure Therapy and Group Therapy may be used.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:December 29, 2023

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