Post-traumatic stress disorder

Most people have probably heard about Post-traumatic stress disorder, but what is it? What causes it and how do you treat it?

PTSD is an extreme anxiety disorder that is caused by a frightening or extremely stressful event. For years there was very little known about Post-traumatic stress disorder but the recent war and conflicts has brought it to the forefront of many a media story.

Post-traumatic stress disorder definition

PSTD an anxiety disorder caused by the sufferer witnessing an extremely distressing event. Its worth noting that the person doesn’t need to experience the event, they may just witness it.

There is another form of PSTD called complex post traumatic stress disorder that is caused by repeated traumatic situations.

Symptoms of Post-traumatic stress disorder

Like other anxiety disorders PTSD needs to be assessed by a professional. Symptoms may occur immediately after the event but can be delayed by months and appear very suddenly. The symptoms often disturb the persons every day life. The main symptoms are:

  • Nightmares
  • Flashbacks
  • Insomnia
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Physical sensations of sweating, pain etc.

Common Causes of PTSD

There are a number of causes of Post-traumatic stress disorder but there are certain events and situations that are more likely to cause it. A few common causes are:

  • War events
  • Car accidents
  • Mugging or robbery or assault
  • Terrorist attacks
  • Kidnappings
  • Witnessing death

Any situation that causes severe distress can cause Post-traumatic stress disorder.

Treating Post-traumatic stress disorder

Its often difficult to decide if you need professional treatment or not but as a general rule, if the event is still causing you problems after 4 weeks you should seek professional help. Your local doctor can help with this, and you shouldn’t delay; There is no need to suffer in silence.

There are generally three different treatments for PTSD:

  1. Simply waiting to see if your symptoms improve over time. Generally someones symptoms will fade over time until their Post-traumatic stress disorder stops effecting their lives.
  2. Psychotherapy. There are generally two types of psychotherapy that is used to treat PTSD; Cognitive behavior therapy and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing.
  3. Antidepressants.

You can talk through your options with your doctor or therapist. Depending on the severity, most therapists will likely suggest trying psychotherapy before antidepressants are prescribed.