Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental disorder that is more common than you would think. Sometimes even the person suffering from the mental illness may not realize what their symptoms represent which is why it is important to understand what PTSD really is.
PTSD is defined as ‘a lasting consequence of traumatic ordeals that cause intense fear, helplessness, or horror, such as a sexual or physical assault, the unexpected death of a loved one, an accident, war, or natural disaster.’
1. Originally, PTSD was known as “Shell Shock”
Ever heard that expression, “being shell shocked”? That’s where it came from.
The type of mental illness was first recognized after the First World War. When soldiers were anxious and jumpy at loud sounds even after returning from the war, the problem was named Shell Shock or Battle Fatigue syndrome. The term Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was coined later.
2. PTSD symptoms don’t appear till after a few months at least
PTSD does not develop immediately after a traumatic event in fact it is quite the opposite. After you go through a traumatic experience, your body fights it with adrenaline but symptoms of PTSD don’t appear till after a few months at the very least and sometimes they don’t appear for several years.
3. Anyone who has been through a traumatic event can get PTSD
Different people have different thresholds of experiencing trauma; the illness is not specific to just very severe traumatic experiences. Everyone can develop PTSD in the aftermath of experiencing a trauma from soldiers, civilians exposed to a war, domestic abuse victims, rape survivors to people who witnessed the sudden death of a loved one.
4. All kinds of trauma can cause PTSD
Experiences like ‘rape’ will put survivors at a higher risk of developing PTSD but even a car accident or a death of a loved one could cause someone to develop PTSD. It is insensitive to differ between degrees of trauma and think that one type of PTSD is justified but others aren’t. Some examples of trauma are given below.
- Domestic Abuse
- Sexual Assault and Abuse
- Gun Violence
- Car accident
- Death of a loved one
- Natural disasters (Earthquakes and Hurricanes)
5. Women have a higher risk for developing PTSD but it also affects many men
Sexual trauma is more likely to cause PTSD than any other trauma. Since more women are victims of sexual abuse and assault, twice as many women suffer from PTSD as men.
Men, particularly those with combat experience have shown signs of suffering from PTSD.
6. PTSD has different triggers for everyone suffering from it
Depending on a person’s mental threshold and the type of trauma they experienced their triggers and flashbacks will differ. Some people get flashbacks that transport them to the scene of their trauma, others just have skin memory that can act up at any random moment. They will feel anxious and won’t be able to understand the cause of their anxiety. Skin memory is common symptom of PTSD in rape survivors. Other people who may have PTSD from a natural disaster, gun violence or a car accident could get upset and angry at loud noises and alarms.
7. People with PTSD have a different Brain MRI
PTSD is one of those mental illnesses that can actually be detected on an MRI. The areas of the brain with PTSD lit up as orange and yellow which shows that this person is always on high alert and struggles with anxiety on a daily basis.
8. People with PTSD may experience flashbacks
Flashbacks are visions of abuse, assault or violence that the person with PTSD may have suffered and they often transport the person to the scene of the incident. They are no longer aware of their surroundings flashbacks can often trigger panic attacks or anxiety attacks.
9. People with PTSD have a higher resting heart-rate than others
The average resting pulse is approximately 75 bpm but with someone suffering from PTSD it is very common to have a higher resting pulse that could be in the range 85-100 or even higher. People with PTSD have also reported heart palpitations and fluctuating heart rate.
10. People with PTSD also have a higher tendency for developing addictions
When a person is suffering from PTSD and they don’t get the right help, there is a chance that they might turn to other ways of numbing themselves. Some begin abusing their prescription drugs and others turn to drugs and/or alcohol.
11. PTSD can also cause other physical symptoms like body pain or insomnia
PTSD can cause back/neck/collarbone pains that are caused by hyper-vigilance (being on high alert for something bad to happen). It can also lead to trouble falling asleep which is different from insomnia because anxious energy makes it very hard for a person to relax when they are trying to fall asleep. People with PTSd feel like they can’t control their brain because intrusive images and thoughts keep on breaking their intended thought process.
12. PTSD has similar symptoms as Traumatic Brain Injury
A person suffering from a concussion may have similar symptoms to someone with PTSD but the medical diagnosis is different. Concussions are also temporary while PTSD can sometimes last a lifetime.
13. PTSD patients often have suicidal ideation
Without the right help survivors of trauma who have PTSD will get frustrated and confused with their symptoms and often fall into depression. This frustration and depression if not diagnosed can lead to suicidal thoughts.
14. PTSD symptoms can also be very subtle
Even if your symptoms aren’t very severe there is a still a chance that you may have PTSD if you’ve suffered abuse or violence in the past. Being overwhelmed in crowds, having unexplained aggressive episodes and nightmares that they cannot make sense of are just some symptoms and if any of these interfere with your daily life schedule then you should definitely think about seeing a psychologist who can give you a proper diagnosis.
15. Children can also develop PTSD after suffering through something traumatic
This is the most difficult to detect because children don’t express symptoms the same way as adults do. Careful observation is the only way to find out if a child has been through violence and abuse and is suffering from PTSD. Their attitudes with other kids their age may change and they might get more stubborn and aggressive. Their drawings may get morbid and full of gore with a lot of red and black.
16. Therapy is the best treatment for PTSD
Anti-anxiety medication can help people with PTSD but the best treatment is seeing a therapist who specializes in abuse therapy. Talking about their experiences and their trauma generally helps PTSD patients more than anything else.
17. Lifestyle changes can also help manage PTSD
Physical exertion and exercise is reported to have released a lot of anxious energy that leads to panic attacks in PTSD patients. A routine with an incorporated work out and exhaustive work schedule is one way of helping yourself if you are a survivor.
You need to monitor the signs and seek help. Good luck and stay safe 🙂
Cover image via: indiatimes.com