It is natural to feel scared or traumatized when you’re involved dangerous situation. That feeling of fear causes physical reactions in your body that instantly prepare you to fight the danger. Some people, however, have a difficult time getting over this feeling, and they feel threatened even when they are not in a dangerous situation.
Someone who is unable to get back to normal life after a traumatic experience or can’t stop brooding over what happened, needs to take the time to see their doctor and be evaluated for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
PTSD is a disorder that can occur after experiencing a traumatic event. It is not unusual for someone with PTSD to feel fearful or numb, have bad dreams, and constantly think about the experience.
In a normal situation, fearful feelings should pass after a short while and life should return to normal. However, for those who suffer from PTSD, these emotions are prolonged and can get worse each day. PTSD does not necessarily appear in a matter of hours or days after the event. It could be weeks, months, or even years before symptoms develop, or they might appear out of the blue. Symptoms can also be triggered by factors that remind someone of the traumatic event.
PTSD can develop at any age. Those who are particularly vulnerable have witnessed, been a victim of, or been exposed to life-threatening situations such as accidents, kidnappings, natural disasters, or terrorist attacks. Survivors of rape, domestic violence, abuse, combat veterans, and civilians exposed to war are among those who are at a high risk for PTSD.
PTSD can also occur following the unexpected and sudden death of a friend or relative. In addition, emergency responders who help victims during traumatic events can experience PTSD.
Those who suffer from PTSD tend to relive the traumatic event – and the emotions and fears associated with it. Other indicators include fearful thoughts and nightmares caused by certain triggers or an aloofness from activities that were once pleasurable. They also may be over-alert and always fearing danger, which can result in overwhelmed emotions, disturbed sleep, and poor concentration. However, some people are hesitant to seek help for fear of speaking about their experience.
A psychiatrist, who is a doctor with expertise in mental illness, can help detect PTSD. The psychiatrist will ask you questions about the duration of symptoms and the intensity of emotions. A patient may also be asked to describe the traumatic event. The doctor may conduct a physical examination and order certain evaluations that can check for other medical conditions like depression or anxiety, which may cause symptoms similar to PTSD.
The most common treatment for PTSD is psychotherapy, which is also called talk therapy. Dealing with the past can be hard, but sharing emotions with a therapist can help someone feel better. The therapist might use cognitive behavior therapy, which helps to recognize and change negative thoughts. Exposure therapy, on the other hand, directly deals with the patient’s specific experience and helps them to overcome the situation by facing their fears in a safe environment. Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is another psychotherapy technique, which helps the brain to process memories better and not react so negatively to the traumatic event. Group therapy and family and couples counseling also help provide emotional support. In combination with psychotherapy, a doctor might prescribe a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) treatment of PTSD.
It is possible to overcome PTSD and get back to normal life again by following a doctor’s advice and keeping a few tips in mind.
Make sure to set realistic goals and take small first steps: for example exercise and yoga helps to reduce stress, so engage in some mild activity.
Spend time in comfortable places with a trusted friend or relative
Expect improvement to happen gradually.
Keep a record in a journal about the painful events; writing can reduce stress which will help to improve emotional health
Limit intake of caffeine and alcohol as these can cause sleep disturbance and interfere with recovery
We all have different experiences that can be frightening, overwhelming, and beyond our control. Most of us can overcome it, but for some, the persistent emotion and fear develop into PTSD. Patients with PTSD experience fear, anxiety, and depression that can keep them from living a fulfilling life. With the help of a physician you can fight back against PTSD one step at a time.