Living With PTSD Is Not An Easy Task
Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is a mental health condition that some people experience after witnessing any event that triggers feelings of intense fear, helplessness, or horror in people. This can include anything from natural disasters and violent crimes to fatal accidents and physical abuse.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 3.6 percent of adults in the United States and about 5 percent of adolescent children suffer from PTSD every year.
Without proper medical assistance, PTSD can lead to serious impairment, loss of income, disrupted family life, and even suicide. Unfortunately, it is not always easy to tell if you have PTSD and most people don’t seek help until years after the event.
Why Do People Get PTSD?
If we are being honest, feeling scared and helpless in the face of danger is a very normal human response. Normally, most people recover from the shock after the danger has passed.
But for some people, the event might be so emotionally traumatizing that they find themselves unable to shake off the memories. Instead, they start re-living the event in their minds over and over again, and they find themselves on a downward spiral of flashbacks and panic attacks for weeks on end.
When this happens, the person is said to have developed post-traumatic stress disorder. The symptoms of PTSD may start to emerge shortly after a traumatic event or years later. For instance, a person who was subjected to sexual abuse as a child may start experiencing PTSD symptoms as a young adult when faced with the prospect of starting a romantic relationship.
What are the signs of PTSD?
Post-traumatic stress disorder is a debilitating condition that can lead to serious impairment if not detected and treated during the early stages. The key to effectively managing PTSD is to understand the signs so you know when to get help for yourself or someone else before the condition gets out of control. Below are the main signs and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder:
People who have been traumatized are often haunted by memories and images of the original event as if it were happening all over again. These flashbacks can come out of the blue or in response to triggers such as loud noises, sudden movements, or certain smells and tastes.
People living with PTSD are often confronted by unpleasant and distressing thoughts and memories of the trauma. This can happen at any time without warning.
Nightmares are a very common symptom not only for PTSD patients but also for other people who have experienced a deeply disturbing event. However, people who develop PTSD are more likely to experience nightmares according to a study by the United States Department of Veteran Affairs.
As a result of the nightmares, flashbacks, and intrusive thoughts, people with posttraumatic stress disorder usually have trouble sleeping or even staying asleep. This can lead to fatigue, anger, anxiety, and mood swings.
Exaggerated Startle Response
Some PTSD scares easily even when there is nothing to be afraid of. For instance, a banging door in the distance can lead to sudden jumpiness and fear. This may be accompanied by physical symptoms such as excessive sweating, heart palpitation, panic attacks, and elevated blood pressure
People with posttraumatic stress disorder live in perpetual fear of impending danger at all times which prompts them to constantly be on the lookout for potential threats to their safety and the safety of their loved ones.
Individuals living with posttraumatic stress disorder are plagued by bad memories and uncontrollable fears and may find it difficult to concentrate on work or complete tasks and chores on time.
Avoiding Reminders of the Event
People with PTSD may go to great lengths to avoid anything that might trigger memories about the traumatic event. This can include avoiding certain people, places, or objects that might trigger bad memories.
This happens when the brain tries to block away bad memories about a traumatic event as a natural coping mechanism. As a result, the individual will have difficulty recounting the entire experience or some parts of it. However, the memories can come flooding back at any moment and can lead to serious emotional anguish.
Negative Thoughts About Everything and Everyone
Trauma can change the way you look at life and cause you to have a bad self-image and low self-esteem. Most people become hopeless and are very pessimistic about the future.
Self-Isolation and Feeling Distant
As a result of PTSD, an individual may feel detached from their friends and family members and may be scared to get close. They feel like they are all alone and nobody understands them. This can lead to depression and extreme sadness.
Anger and Irritability
It is not uncommon for people living with PTSD to be irritable and angry. This can result from feelings of frustration, guilt, or being overwhelmed by stress.
Many people feel guilty and blame themselves after a traumatic event especially if the event resulted in someone being hurt. They may also be quick to cast blame on others to rid themselves of the guilt.
Difficulty Feeling Positive Emotions
PTSD can lead to a person’s inability to experience positive emotions or enjoy life in general. They will constantly feel emotionally numb and nothing seems to cheer them up.
Engaging in Risky Behaviors
Some people living with PTSD may try to numb the bad memories through alcohol, drugs, or other unhealthy behaviors. They will often use these substances as a way to cope with their symptoms and feel better. Others will engage in risky behaviors and put themselves in dangerous situations to feel something alive and escape their misery.
Lack of Interest in favorites Activities
Last but not least, many individuals living with PTSD experience a diminished interest in activities they previously relished like picking with family or going to the movies with friends.
There is Hope for PTSD
Although a cure for PTSD is yet to be developed, there are various treatment options like ketamine therapy, counseling, and psychotherapy that have proven very effective in treating symptoms and helping patients live a quality life.
Confiding in friends and family members can also be very helpful in managing PTSD as well because they can offer support, love, and understanding that many people living with PTSD lack in their lives.