Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a type of anxiety disorder which is triggered after experiencing or witnessing some traumatic incident such as a horrible accident, sudden death of a loved one, natural calamity, physical or sexual abuse, terrorist intervention, kidnapping, rape, serious injury, war, childhood neglect, assault, or any other life threatening event.
The symptoms of PTSD include emotional numbness; avoidant behaviors such as avoiding the conversations, thoughts or feelings about the traumatic event, avoiding all kinds of activities, places of people that are related to the particular traumatic incident; and difficulties in clearly recalling the important part of the trauma. Signs of detachment, sleep disturbances, lack of interest in daily activities, poor concentration, irritability, anger outbursts, and anxiety are also present. The affected people also tend to experience somatic symptoms such as headache, sweating, digestive problems, heart pounding and rapid heartbeat after thinking about or recalling the traumatic event. They may have nightmares related to the traumatic experience, have disturbing flashbacks of the traumatic event as if the event was repeating itself all over again. The affected people may also neglect health care and personal self care.
They continue to be severely restless and depressed for months or even years which can seriously affect their quality of life and general functioning. Anger, nervousness, guilt, shock or fear can be the initial reactions of the people who experienced a traumatic event. With time, such feelings start to persist and increase. They become so strong and dominant that the affected person fails to live a normal life.
People with PTSD having symptoms for more than one month and cannot function as well as before. PTSD can be triggered among the people who either directly experience the traumatic event, who are the eyewitness to a traumatic event, or those who come for the rescue after the occurrence of a traumatic event such as emergency staff members or rescue teams. Moreover, the family members or friends of those who experienced the trauma can also be affected with PTSD symptoms.
Studies suggest that women are comparatively twice more vulnerable to develop posttraumatic stress disorder than men. However, children can also develop the symptoms of PTSD after experiencing a traumatic incident. It is also concluded in the researches that depression, substance use disorders or other types of anxiety disorders can also occur as co-morbid disorders along with PTSD.
Psychotherapy and counseling are proved to be very effective for the management of posttraumatic stress disorder. Counseling attempts to help the patients in managing their thoughts, feelings and behaviors. It also educates the patients to manage their stress effectively, to learn relaxation skills and the mindfulness techniques to get over with the previous traumatic event and live in the present. Exposure therapy can also be sometimes used to help the patients talk about their experiences instead of avoiding them. Counseling attempts to help the patients to live with their trauma without becoming anxious or stressed out. Tools like writing, imagination or actually visiting the place of traumatic event are also used in the counselling as well.