How to Deal With PTSD?

What is PTSD?

PTSD, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder is primarily an anxiety disorder. During our course of life, if we encounter traumatic or life-threatening experiences such as war, sexual assault, accidents, or natural disasters, we may develop PTSD.

Some symptoms of PTSD include:
  • Emotional Symptoms: Anger, Depression, Anxiety, Irritability, Sadness
  • Physical Symptoms: Tiredness, Fatigue, Poor Gut health, High or Low blood pressure

If you have witnessed or experienced trauma, you can get overwhelmed with feelings of fear, anxiety, and sadness. You will have trouble sleeping and may get frequent flashbacks of the incident.

People who suffer from depression or other anxiety disorders can get better with time. But PTSD has an upward trend. You will be at higher risk as the time passes. Your condition is more likely to get worse than better.

Living with PTSD is challenging. You will encounter issues with your daily life. You will have trouble keeping a stable job, maintaining relationships, and surviving high-stress environments. PTSD will deteriorate your mental and physical health. It is crucial to seek help and see a doctor. With proper counseling and medication, your state can get manageable and maybe better.

How Does PTSD Happen?

When you experience trauma, your body reacts to a threat by getting into a “flight or fight” mode. To help you counter the situation, stress hormones, like adrenaline and norepinephrine, are released to give you a rush of energy. Your heart starts beating faster. And your brain puts every other task on standby.

Ideally, after the threat is over, your brain should return to normalcy. However, PTSD forces your mind in danger mode, and you get stuck in it. Even when you are not in danger, you tend to be extra alert. Your body keeps on sending stress signals, which manifests PTSD symptoms. Amygdala, in the human brain, handles fear and emotions. The amygdala always triggers people who have PTSD, and they remain in a state of fear and paranoia.

Over time, PTSD alters your brain. The hippocampus, which is responsible for storing your memories, becomes smaller, making it acutely tricky for patients to maintain a healthy lifestyle. 

It is essential to seek treatment in the early stages to avoid permanent damage. 

What Are the Effects of PTSD?

PTSD causes various mental issues. You can experience excessive anger, guilt, disturbing flashbacks, emotional numbness, and sleep issues. You will develop coping mechanisms such as avoiding things that may remind you of the trauma. You will also start disliking things which you used to enjoy in the past.

Without proper treatment, you will continue suffering from PTSD for years or even your entire life. Your symptoms can get better or worse with time. For example, a news report about an assault can trigger memories of your attack.

PTSD negatively impacts your life. It compromises your communication abilities and problem-solving skills. This can lead to problems in your relationships with friends, family, and coworkers. It also affects your physical health. Studies show that it raises your risk of heart disease and digestive disorders.

Who Gets It?

War veterans first experienced PTSD. It was referred to as “shell shock” or “combat fatigue.” However, now PTSD can appear in anyone irrespective of their age, including children. About 8% of Americans will develop the condition at some point in their lives.

Women are at high risk for PTSD. They’re more likely to undergo sexual assault. Women also blame themselves for a traumatic event more than men do.

About 50% of women and 60% of men will experience emotional trauma sometime in their lives. But not everyone develops PTSD. The following factors increase your risk:

  • Previous experience with trauma, like childhood abuse
  • Having another mental health issue, like depression and anxiety, or a substance abuse problem
  • Having a close family member, such as a parent, with a mental health problem, like PTSD or depression
  • Working a job that may expose you to traumatic events (the military or emergency medicine)
  • Lacking social support from friends and family

Living With PTSD

PTSD is not curable. But you can successfully manage it with regular therapy. Your doctor may also prescribe medicine, such as antidepressants. With proper treatment, some people may stop having PTSD symptoms. For others, they may become less intense.

It’s essential to seek help if you think you have PTSD. Without it, the condition usually doesn’t get better.

 

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