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All you need to know about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Ravi Kshirsagar MD (USA) PGDDE (UK)

Consultant Physician and Diabetologist.

1 min read

What is PTSD?

After any traumatic experience, in general, you feel frightened, anxious, sad and disconnected. But if these blues don’t fade, you might have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This disorder can develop following any incident that causes intense fear. It is a common misconception that a trauma equivalent to rape or battle-scarred soldiers—and military combat is the most common cause of PTSD. The fact is that any event or series of events which flood you with feelings of anxiety, hopelessness and helplessness and leaves you emotionally shattered, Trigger PTSD. Especially if the event feels uncontrollable and unpredictable.

PTSD affects people who personally experience the traumatic event, those who witness the event, or those who relive the experience afterwards. People who work in emergency sectors like law enforcement officers or surgery on children who are too young to understand what's happening to them entirely. Whatever might be the cause for PTSD, with proper treatment and support, one can manage their symptoms and move past the trauma by tackling to deal with the painful memories.

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Signs and symptoms of PTSD

The development of PTSD depends on individual factors like nervous system and tolerance for stress. This is the reason that the effects are solely dependent on the individual. It is unlikely to pinpoint the exact amount of time you take to develop PTSD as it varies in the extreme-scale of days to years. Sometimes, symptoms seem to appear out of the blue without a trigger. There are times when they are triggered by memories of the original traumatic event. The triggers could be anything like noise, image, words, or even smell. While everyone undergoes PTSD uniquely, there are four telltale symptoms.

  • Avoidance and numbing
  • Re-experiencing the traumatic event
  • Hyper-arousal
  • Negative thoughts and mood swings

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PTSD symptoms in children

Children exhibit PTSD in a different form compared to adults. Their symptoms include:

  • Experiencing sombre, a compulsive play in which themes or aspects of the trauma are repeated
  • Aches and pains with no apparent cause
  • Fear of being separated from their parent
  • Letting out the ordeal with the means of play, stories, or drawings
  • Irritability and aggression
  • Losing previously-acquired skills (such as toilet training)
  • Sleep problems and nightmares
  • Development of new phobias and anxieties that seem unrelated to the trauma (such as fear of monsters)

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Are you suffering from PTSD?

Answer the following question in either 'YES' or 'NO'. Calculate the results, if you answer 'YES' to more than three questions, you may be suffering from PTSD. It is then advised to seek professional help.

PTSD risk factors

  • Previous traumatic experiences, especially in early life
  • History of physical or sexual abuse
  • Family history of PTSD or depression
  • History of mental illness like depression or anxiety
  • History of substance abuse
Positive ways of coping with PTSD

  • Learn about trauma and PTSD
  • Join a PTSD support group
  • Practice relaxation techniques
  • Pursue outdoor activities
  • Confide in a person you trust
  • Spend time with positive people
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs
  • Enjoy the peace of nature
  • Healthy diet
  • Rhythmic exercise
  • Enough sleep
  • Professional help

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Why you should seek help for PTSD

Early treatment is better. Symptoms of PTSD may worsen with time. Dealing with them as soon as possible might help stop them from getting worse in the future. Seeking and understanding of professional help makes it easier to deal with. Questions like how the treatments works, where to look for help, and what kind of questions to ask makes it easier to get help and support for better outcomes.

PTSD symptoms can change family life. Suffering from PTSD can get in the way of your family life and regular life. You may find that you start to pull away from loved ones, unable to get along with people, or you are angry or even get violent easily. Getting help for your PTSD has shown improvement in your family life by easing the pain.

PTSD can effect other health problems. Research suggests that PTSD symptoms sometimes make physical health problems worse. For example, there is a significant impact of PTSD on heart health. Seeking help for PTSD could also improve your physical health.