WHAT IS POST-TRAUMATIC
STRESS
DISORDER?

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric condition that is triggered by a terrifying event in one’s life, either via experiencing or witnessing it. Individuals who
are at a higher risk for developing PTSD include emergency health care workers, medical students, soldiers, victims of natural disasters, terrorist attacks, rape, kidnapping, sexual or physical abuse, childhood neglect as well as those experiencing the sudden death of a loved one. After a traumatic experience, it is expected for a person to feel frightened, anxious, or disconnected from society, however PTSD may develop if these rigid feelings do not gradually fade away, or start interfering with one’s activities of daily living.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
PTSD symptoms may develop within months to years after a traumatic event, and are typically grouped into four distinct types:

INTRUSIVE MEMORIES
Symptoms may include distressing flashbacks or upsetting
dreams of a traumatic event, as well as severe emotional
distress or physical reactions to something that reminds a
person of the event.
AVOIDANCE
Symptoms may include avoiding places, activities or people
that remind a person of a particular traumatic event.
NEGATIVE CHANGES IN THINKING AND MOOD
Symptoms may consist of an inability to experience positive
emotions, lack of interest in previously enjoyable activities,
memory glitches or difficulties in maintaining close
relationships.
CHANGES IN EMOTIONAL REACTIONS
Symptoms of changes in emotional reactions could result
in troubled sleep or lack of concentration, aggressive
behaviour, feelings of overwhelming guilt, as well as being
easily startled and constantly on guard for danger.

PTSD can leave an individual feeling powerless and vulnerable, however, it is important for one to realise that they are not helpless. Getting effective treatment after PTSD symptoms develop can be critical to reduce symptoms and improve overall function. The first self-help
tip would be to engage in any rhythmic exercise routine that helps to release endorphins and unwind the nervous system.

Secondly, spending time in the midst of nature, mindful breathing and social interaction with close family or friends can help in alleviating anxiety. Moreover, volunteering can
turn out to be a great way to reclaim one’s sense of power, whilst joining a PTSD support group can help an individual feel less isolated and also provide invaluable information on
coping with symptoms as well as working towards recovery. The symptoms of PTSD can be excruciating on one’s body so it is vitally important to take care of oneself and
develop healthy lifestyle habits. When struggling with difficult emotions and traumatic memories, one may be tempted to indulge in alcohol or drugs, however substance
abuse worsens many symptoms of PTSD, interferes with treatment as well as building sound relationships. Types of professional treatment for PTSD include trauma-focused
cognitive behavioural therapy, as well as prescribed medications to relieve secondary symptoms of depression or anxiety if the need arises.

Georgiana Farrugia Bonnici

© 2018 – VIDA Magazine