Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can be experienced by anyone who has experienced a traumatic event. Not everyone develops PTSD after a traumatic events, however, this is a possibility and needs to be treated seriously if it occurs. Experiencing PTSD can affect a person’s family and other relationships.
Therefore, having support for you and your family or support network can be helpful. Approaching a mental health or medical professional to assist you can be beneficial and help you move to feeling safer and more in control of your life.
What Is PTSD?
PTSD is a serious mental health condition experienced by anyone, at any age who meets a set of criteria stated in the Diagnosistic and Statistical Manual V-TR. This mental health condition affects a person’s functioning in their daily life and this can negatively impact their quality of life.
To experience PTSD you would have experience a traumatic event. This is defined as a direct or indirect experience where you perceive that your life is threatened or in danger. If a traumatic event is experienced and the following combination of symptoms are experienced for a period of at least a month, usually developing about three months after the traumatic event, then a PTSD diagnosis can be made.
The symptoms of PTSD can be classified into four different categories:
Children and adolescents may present with slightly different symptoms than the ones listed above. In particular, there may be an increase in nightmares and physical complaints. These could be in the form of headaches, stomach aches, nausea, etc.
What Are The Different Risk Factors Of PTSD?
It is a fair statement to say that everyone will experience a traumatic event during their lifetime, however, not everyone will develop PTSD. So what makes a person more predisposed to developing PTSD?
There are a variety of risk factors that can make an individual more vulnerable to experiencing PTSD. These risk factors usually decrease a person’s resilience and post traumatic growth. If you experience some of these risk factors you may be more likely to develop PTSD after a traumatic event. You can support yourself before this develops by reaching out for support and assistance.
Some of the risk factors include:
Exposure to trauma, neglect, or abuse as a child.
Continued exposure to trauma or unsafe environments or circumstances.
No support systems or resources to engage with supportive services.
A family history of mental health conditions or substance abuse.
These risk factors can be reduced by reaching out for support after the traumatic event, receiving assistance for past struggles and any mental health conditions.
How Is PTSD Diagnosed?
You would meet with a medical or mental health professional. This professional would speak to you about what you have experienced and how it is making you feel and interact with your world.
They would look to see if you meet the criteria regarding the different symptoms and determine if these symptoms are having an impact on your ability to function and fulfill your daily tasks. If they determine that you are experiencing the symptoms to a point where you are negatively impacted, they can make a diagnosis of PTSD.
The practitioner may need to ask you questions about your medical and social history, including any family medical challenges. These questions are to help the practitioner understand you as the unique individual you are, which will put them in a better position to suggest a treatment plan going forward.
How Is PTSD Treated?
PTSD is usually treated with a combination approach. This is a way to provide the most effective support in the optimal manner. The idea is to reduce the symptomology to give you a chance to process the trauma and minimize the impact on your daily life.
The combination is usually made with medication and psychotherapy.
When a medication is introduced it is usually to assist with the symptomology that increases your activation and loss of motivation. When medications are used, they are there to support you and are most effective when they are taken as prescribed.
Your medical practitioner may also suggest you engage with a form of psychotherapy. The approach that you choose may differ from person to person as we each have our own preferences. There are a variety of options to choose from such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy which helps focus on cognitive restructuring and reframing. You could also try Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) which assists in minimizing the impact of traumatic memories on your experience. You may wish to look at an Art Therapy approach to help you process the experience of both the event and living with the symptoms afterwards.
You might feel more supported if you joined a support group or a therapeutic group program. This offers you an opportunity to engage with people who have gone through similar experiences and are feeling symptoms similar to yours.
Although trauma is a reality in our lives and unfortunately we experience it more often than we would like. Insightful Psychiatry offers you a safe space to unpack what you have experienced and gain support to help you continue with your life in a resilient manner.
Contact us to book an appointment to begin your journey. We are waiting to welcome you to our telehealth consultation, aimed at providing you with your individual support plan.