Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) refers to the psychological impact on an individual following a traumatic event, either to them or their loved ones. A person who develops post-traumatic stress disorder either had undergone trauma or witnessed a traumatic event. Trauma can be a natural calamity such as an earthquake or flood, physical abuse as in rape or kidnapping, motor vehicle accidents, terrorist attack or war exposure. Children exposed to inappropriate material for an instance, pornographic images or act or child abuse may also develop symptoms of Post-traumatic stress disorder.
Individuals with PTSD gets flashback and nightmares about the incident repeatedly .This continues for a month or more. During the flashback and nightmare the person loses touch with the reality and relives the traumatic event in the form of images, sound and even smells and feelings. The person avoids places and activities that remind of the incident or trigger the flashback. The person loses interest in routine activities, becomes irritable, feels depressed, finds difficult to concentrate and sleep. Individuals also become too watchful and cautious believing the incident may happen again to them. At times they may also become aggressive and violent and may harm themselves or others or start drinking or taking drugs to forget their feelings. Symptom may appear within 3 months of the incident or may appear years later.
Post-traumatic stress disorder if left untreated may lead to various complications such as:
Treatment involves medication and psychotherapy. Psychotherapy involves both cognitive therapy and exposure therapy. Cognitive therapy teaches how to replace the negative and destructive thoughts by more positive feelings. Exposure therapy involves desensitizing to the fear by making the patient to face the distressing events with thorough training. In some cases it is done along with Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing. This involves series of guided eye movements. Time of recovery may vary from person to person. In some it may just take 6months, in others may take longer.
Certain simple lifestyle changes can help overcome the PTSD or anxiety and also a well-prepared visit to psychologist offers better treatment outcomes.