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Get to Know PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that is triggered by terrifying events. This event could either be experienced or witnessed by one. Examples of events that may trigger PTSD are being raped, kidnapped, watching your loved ones being murdered or experiencing violence in a military combat.

Most people who face traumatic events may have temporary difficulty adjusting and coping but with time and good self-care, they usually get better. If the symptoms get worse, last for months or even years, and interfere with your day-to-day functioning, one may have developed PTSD.

Post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms may begin within one month of a traumatic event but sometimes symptoms may not appear until years after the event. These symptoms cause significant problems in interaction with others and cripples the individual’s ability to carry out their daily task.

A compilation of the many symptoms of PTSD

PTSD symptoms can generally grouped into four types and they are:
i) intrusive memories
ii) avoidance
iii) negative changes in thinking and mood
iv) changes in physical and emotional reactions

Intrusive memories

Too many disturbing and intrusive thoughts in the mind at a time

Symptoms of intrusive memories may include:
•Recurrent, unwanted distressing memories of the traumatic event
•Reliving the traumatic event as if it were happening again (flashbacks)
•Upsetting dreams or nightmares about the traumatic event
•Severe emotional distress or physical reactions to something that reminds you of the traumatic event


Using music to drown sorrows or memories of the event

Symptoms of avoidance may include:

•Avoid thinking or talking about the traumatic event
•Avoiding places, activities or people that remind one of the traumatic event

Negative changes in thinking and mood

Recollection of memories that triggers an insecure feeling that people out there are after her and will burn down her house.

•Negative thoughts about oneself or other people or basically assuming the world is a bad place
•Hopelessness about the future
•Memory issues, including not remembering important aspects of the traumatic event
•Difficulty maintaining close relationships
•Feeling detached from family and friends
•Lack of interest in activities you once enjoyed
•Difficulty experiencing positive emotions
•Feeling emotionally numb

Changes in physical and emotional reactions

Unstable emotions and inability to manage them

Symptoms of changes in physical and emotional reactions (also called arousal symptoms) may include:
•Being easily startled or frightened
•Always being on guard for danger
•Self-destructive behaviour, such as drinking too much or driving too fast
•Trouble sleeping
•Trouble concentrating
•Irritability, angry outbursts or aggressive behaviour
•Overwhelming guilt or shame

For children 6 years old and younger, signs and symptoms may also include:
•Re-enacting the traumatic event or aspects of the traumatic event through play
•Frightening dreams

Intensity of symptoms

PTSD symptoms can vary in intensity over time. You may have more PTSD symptoms when you’re stressed or when you come across triggers of what you went through. For example, you may hear a car backfire and relive combat experiences. Or you may see a report on the news about a sexual assault and feel consumed by memories of your own assault.

Reaching Out for Help

•If you have suicidal thoughts, reach out to a close friend or loved one.
•If you have disturbing thoughts and feelings about a traumatic event and find trouble getting your life back under control, speak to a doctor or a mental health professional.
•If you are embarrassed to seek professional help, reach out to someone in your faith or religion community.
•If you know someone who’s in danger of attempting suicide or has made a suicide attempt, make sure that individual is never left alone and make sure your phone is always available from him/ her to reach out.

1. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The Mind.

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