There was widely held belief not too long ago that a person could not be said to be suffering from PTSD or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder unless they had suffered the effects of war. PTSD is common among combat veterans and survivors of concentration camps and war crimes, but these are not the only people who suffer from PTSD. Anyone who has experienced severe physical assault or an extreme danger, especially if their life was threatened, may develop symptoms of PTSD. The apparent increase in diagnoses for this problem in recent years is the result of the widespread awareness that this condition can occur outside of the context of natural disasters or wars.
Causes of PTSD
The experience war certainly puts someone at a high risk of developing PTSD, but there are other events that can lead to this problem. Police, firefighters, and first responders often put their lives at risk and are likely to have experienced something that can cause PTSD. Those who have survived severe physical assault may show symptoms of PTSD. The danger that can lead to symptoms of post-trauma can be manmade or a natural disaster. Extreme fear for one’s life and a feeling of helplessness can create trauma conditions that can develop into PTSD.
Signs of PTSD
There are a number of signs of PTSD that may merit a diagnosis and a treatment for the condition. One symptom is the re-experiencing of the trauma. This happens spontaneously and can be in the form of overwhelming nightmares or flashbacks. Often people with PTSD suffer from insomnia and may be awakened by a terrible dream related to the event. During the day, a PTSD sufferer may experience intrusive thoughts or feelings about the trauma. A person may re-experience the trauma in a way that disrupts functioning at work or in relationships and can affect the mood dramatically.
Flashbacks can be terrifying and involve a state of dissociation from time and place in which the person feels as if the unpleasant event is happening in the present. The disorientation may be momentary or can last a period of time. Flashbacks are often accompanied by a sense of helplessness and fear. PTSD treatment may not stop flashbacks entirely, but it can help someone with this condition manage their symptoms more effectively.
Rather than experience fear and helplessness concerning the event, PTSD sufferers may simply become numb. This can involve an emotional shutting down and a lack of engagement in usual activities. People may go out of their way to avoid situations that may bring back memories of the event. This can create problems in one’s relationships and career and interfere with a sense of well-being.
Another sign of PTSD is hyperalertness. A person may jump at any noise and be inclined to over-react to stimuli. The body is usually tense and the mind is on the alert. People who experience this symptom may find it hard to relax and feel comfortable in man situations.
There are a number of treatments for PTSD which involve helping the person with the condition to manage symptoms. EMDR or Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing, cognitive therapy and meditation and yoga can be helpful in improving the lives of people with PTSD.