What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder/PTSD? | Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

What causes PTSD?
What causes PTSD?

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychological condition that individuals face after a traumatic event or action, witnessed, or experienced. It is not a disorder but a condition that results from the trauma, which they are unable to handle. Every individual would react in some manner when they witness or experience any horrifying situation and eventually forget about it. However, this is not the case in terms of individuals with PTSD. Individuals who have PTSD will continuously have the fear, flashbacks of the incident and anxiety of the experience, which increases with time into a level that starts to disrupt their lifestyle.

PTSD and its symptoms:

The symptoms of PTSD start appearing from the month after the traumatizing event. The symptoms are mainly divided into four categories for a better understanding, as follows: reliving, avoiding, increased arousal and, negative cognitions and mood. 

  • Reliving: Individuals constantly get flashbacks or nightmares about that incident multiple times, which feels like they are reliving the event or situation again.
  • Avoiding: Individuals tend to avoid places or people who remind them of the event or are similar to that trauma, leading to a gap with family or friends.
  • Increased arousal: Being overly emotional; easily irritated or getting easily angry. Having trouble in concentration. Feeling of shame or guilt.
  • Negative cognitions and mood: Negative thoughts about yourself, feeling of hopelessness, difficulty in staying and feeling positive, poor social life, disrupted lifestyle, losing interest in activities, difficulty sleeping etc.

PTSD and its causes:

The major cause of PTSD is experiencing or witnessing any traumatic event or situation by an individual. Everyone has a different way to react to circumstances or conditions, which means that not everyone living through a trauma may have PTSD. The symptoms and their intensity also differ from person to person. Individuals who receive enough care and support may not develop PTSD and forget the event over time. However, some losses or incidents in life may be traumatic and unacceptable by an individual, and they end up having PTSD. Some examples of incidents that can cause PTSD are:

  • Rape or any other type of assault
  • Serious accidents
  • Death of a loved one
  • Victim of a crime
  • Any life-threatening incident

How is it diagnosed?

The symptoms must be present for a long duration of time, beginning after a month of the event. Doctors/Physicians may diagnose any physical symptom and prescribe medication for those. Psychologists observe the individuals for the signs and background history of the individual. They hear about the event, and with the help of different assessments and interviews, they evaluate the individuals.

PTSD and its treatment:

Psychologists provide treatment to individuals with PTSD through counselling or medications, and sometimes a combination of both. Anti-depressants are given to individuals. It may help reduce anxious feelings, such as citalopram, fluoxetine, paroxetine etc. Therapy treatment includes cognitive behavioural therapy, family therapy. Counselling aims to help the individuals identify the feelings and strategize ways to reduce and cope with them. Proper support and treatments can treat PTSD.