Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a type of anxiety that involves a wide range of symptoms ranging from mild to severe.
PTSD is a result of experiencing intense trauma to the point where a person’s life and safety were in danger. It could have been a one-time occurrence or a repeated event, which often requires complex trauma treatment. Mental health providers offer treatment for PTSD alongside a variety of approaches, often including different types of therapy as well as medication.
Who Does PTSD Affect?
Typically, people think of PTSD as mental illness that only soldiers coming back from war suffer from, but trauma comes in all forms and can affect anyone. As a result, people of both sexes and all ages can suffer from PTSD.
Emotional or physical child abuse may result in symptoms of PTSD well into adulthood. Rape victims often suffer from PTSD as a result of their trauma. Domestic violence victims may also suffer from the effects of it as well.
Abandonment, bullying, and witnessing a death or other traumatic event may also result in signs of PTSD.
Inability to Focus
Mental illness affects both the mind and body.
The inability to focus may be a result of trauma, depression, or anxiety. Sufferers need to change their routines and discuss their inability to concentrate with a psychiatrist or therapist. Talking may also help sort out some of the effects of PTSD as a way to work through it.
Flashbacks, triggering memories, and unwanted episodes of anxiety are all signs of PTSD.
Because PTSD is a result of trauma, it is not uncommon for the person to re-experience that event in their mind in some way. Traumatic memories and reoccurring dreams are a sign of repressed feelings or memories, which need to be addressed.
Intrusive memories can be treated in therapy using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or Exposure Therapy. A mental health professional can help sort through repetitive and intrusive memories.
People suffering from PTSD often experience episodes of intense anger and irritability.
For example, rape victims often experience overwhelming anger when they begin treatment for a rape that occurred years ago. In many cases, they have not spoken about it until therapy. The victim may feel anger towards her rapist, the people who were supposed to protect her, or people for not believing her and so forth.
Another experience is cited for people who were victims of child abuse. If not treated, victims may become abusers themselves perpetuating the cycle. Anger and violence can be passed down if not treated.
Anger management, regular talk therapy, and support groups are ways to express anger in a healthy way. Understanding its origins and figuring out how to express it in a way that is not toxic, can help manage it.
Hypervigilance is when a person is on edge and gets easily startled. These are symptoms of PTSD. Veterans may experience these characteristics due to their experience in being in a warzone where anything could happen and they had to be prepared. This is a result of the trauma and the adrenaline from anxiety.
Some PTSD sufferers get triggered in certain situations where they may remember a traumatic event or think that something might occur, which they have to prepare for. The nervous energy is really the “fight or flight” stage of anxiety and trauma. It is a way your body protects itself. Leftover nervous energy results in the jumpiness or edginess that characterizes PTSD.
Dizziness, shortness of breath, chest pain, profuse sweating, nausea, vomiting, and other uncontrollable ailments are the body’s way of responding to trauma. Physical pain is a common symptom of PTSD. However, many people do not make the mind, body connection with PTSD. Often the pain will continue until the individual starts mental health treatment to address underlying causes and to understand why the body might have responded in that way. Sometimes trauma is buried and is only discovered through therapy. Hypnotherapy is a credible and proven mental health approach, which may uncover hidden trauma and its connected physical pain.
Inability to Connect / Isolation
Due to trauma, people may experience an inability to connect, numbness, and the need to isolate. These emotional symptoms are a form of avoidance. Sometimes the pain of dealing with the causes of PTSD are too severe, that people would rather push away emotions than face them. This is an unhealthy strategy, which will only lead to bigger problems if not confronted.
While everyone experiences the blues sometimes, chronic depression is a common response to trauma and is a sign of PTSD. Depression and PTSD often overlap and may be result in a dual diagnosis, making treatment more specific and challenging. Commitment to consistent therapy and/or medication may help cure it.
Do not repress your symptoms. Repression of any kind only intensifies issues, it never pacifies them. Sharing concerns with trusted individuals, confiding in a therapist, and expressing feelings in a healthy way can relieve anxiety and trauma. Journaling and attending support groups specializing in PTSD can be extremely helpful.
It is important to find an outlet (even if it is yelling or crying at home) that can make an impact on PTSD in your life. If left unexamined, it can affect job opportunities, social lives, and an inability to attend school, or participate in gatherings.
To treat PTSD and any of its symptoms, it is helpful to first treat the behavioral aspect (like depression or anger) using a fitting approach. Depression might benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy, while anger and irritability problems might need an anger management program. Medication may help any severe aspects of PTSD like panic attacks. But the important thing is to find help and not to battle PTSD alone.
It is also important to remember that PTSD is a result of trauma and that the resulting symptoms are mental illnesses. It is not helpful to generate more negative feelings over your limitations or weaknesses at the present moment. With adequate therapeutic care and a resolve to work on issues, PTSD symptoms can be temporary.
Find a way to acknowledge your trauma, decide to move forward, and work on lasting healing today.