Post-traumatic Stress Disorder is an anxiety disorder that may arise in the face of intense stress that may occur as a result of a traumatic life. Traumatic experience can sometimes be a one-on-one experience, as well as a result of an event that the person experiences or develops, witnesses or is aware of.
It is the experiences that cause disruption in the natural flow of life and where an intense stress effect is felt. Traumatic experiences are life threatening, causing loss and injury, making mental and physical integrity feel threatened, creating feelings of fear, horror and helplessness, often uncontrollable and unpredictable. These can be experiences that come with natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods, hurricanes; rape, abuse, sexual harassment, accidents, chronic and fatal diseases can also be said as traumatic experiences.
As a result of traumatic experience, the continuity of life is disrupted. Trauma leads to the shaking of people’s basic beliefs about the world, ourselves and others. People who have experienced a traumatic incident often have the following thoughts:
- “I’m not safe.”
- “The world is not a fair place.”
- “I have no control over my life anymore.”
- “No one really understands me, I’m so lonely.”
- “I could go through something like that again at any moment.”
Not every traumatic event always causes trauma!
Stress responses resulting from a traumatic experience are defined as normal responses to an abnormal situation. Stress reactions that can be seen immediately after the traumatic event are the expected reactions to this situation. Post-traumatic Stress Disorder occurs if these reactions persist, manifest themselves by increasing their effect and impair the functionality of the person’s life.
What are the Symptoms of PTSD?
There are three types of symptom groups:
Re-experiencing: Getting rid of trauma-related memories, seeing flashbacks or nightmares as if the event were happening again, even though there is nothing to remind the event, the event constantly comes to mind and feels uncomfortable as if it is happening again.
Avoidance: Avoiding people, events or activities that remind you of trauma.
Excessive excitation: Sleep problems, difficulty in concentration, attention problems, outbursts of anger, startling small noises.
Post-Traumatic Stress Reactions
Physical Responses: Acceleration in heart rate and breathing, sweating, movement in the digestive system, difficulties falling asleep, increased or decreased appetite, pain and pain in different parts of the body, nausea, tension in the muscles, tiredness, changes in sexual impulses are felt.
Emotional Responses: Emotional symptoms such as sadness, depressive mood, denial, fear, guilt, panic, numbness occur.
Behavioural Responses: Behaviours such as sudden behaviours, substance intake, rapid reaction, blaming others, eating problems, willingness to keep everything under control, withdrawal can be observed.
Mental Responses: Memory related problems, carelessness, nightmares, difficulty remembering, sleep disturbance may occur.
Social Responses: In business life or academic performance loss, getting away from people, difficulty in following the rules may occur.
How do Children React?
Children’s reactions vary by age groups. Symptoms such as restlessness, irritability, rapid anger, aggressive behaviours, introversion, wetting, adherence to one of the parents, finger sucking; decrease in school success, deterioration of sleep and eating patterns are the main reactions. The extent to which the child experiences these symptoms and how much of them are seen together is important to diagnose PTSD.
When Can We Talk About the Diagnosis of PTSD?
Reactions given within one month after the traumatic event are acute stress responses and are considered normal. If the stress responses stated after one month persist and the level increases, we can talk about the diagnosis of PTSD.
What is the Treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?
Different methods can be applied in the treatment process taking into account the needs of the person. It is important to inform the person about the process and the course of treatment. Drug therapy and psychotherapy can be taken together in trauma.
Cognitive-behavioural therapies stand out as the type of treatment shown to be effective among psychotherapeutic treatments. A PTSD treatment program including restructuring, anxiety management training and therapy is being implemented in cognitive behavioural treatments.
In addition, the EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) approach seems to be useful in the treatment of trauma.
The information on this page has been prepared by the Moodist Psychiatry and Neurology Hospital Medical Team.