Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a group of stress reactions that can develop after we witness a traumatic event, such as death, serious injury or sexual violence to ourselves or to others.
PTSD can happen after we’ve been through one traumatic event, or after repeated exposure to trauma. Sometimes, PTSD can develop after hearing details about devastating and traumatic events many times.
PTSD includes a cluster of symptoms that begin and persist after a person has survived or, in some cases, witnessed a severely traumatic or life-threatening event. Because trauma puts us on high-alert, it can lead to neurochemical changes. In some cases, memories of trauma become difficult to process while anxiety increases, all causing the individual to re-experience the feelings associated with trauma as if it were occurring in the present. PTSD symptoms will generally persist for at least a month and for many survivors, these signs represent their first struggles with anxiety.
Post-traumatic stress disorder is a treatable anxiety disorder affecting millions yearly. It happens when fear, anxiety and memories of a traumatic event don’t go away. The feelings last for a long time and interfere with how people cope with everyday life.
The number of PTSD is increasing daily due to the number of incidents that we witness on a daily basis. Many people have been victims of fire explosions, kidnappings, armed robberies, and insurgencies. Many communities have been ravaged and more recently, the Abule Ado and Abule Egba explosions in Lagos that left many homeless and many dead.
Also worthy of mention is the coronavirus pandemic which has been affecting both the poor and the rich in society. This will make many, especially the contacts, their families, the index and suspected cases, to be battling with PTSD. The outcome of this incidents, if not properly managed, may make many to be battling with depression.
Many individuals may also have PTSD following the death of a loved one, after a physical or sexual abuse, after failing an exam, after having an accident, after a divorce following a failed marriage or following any life issues that put stress on the person.
Symptoms and signs of PTSD
It can vary from subtle changes in day-to-day life, withdrawal and numbness to distressing flashbacks or physical anxiety. The main symptoms of PTSD are re-experiencing the trauma (memories, nightmares or flashbacks), sleep loss and concentration difficulties, being easily angered, irritated, wound-up or alert, being constantly on guard for danger, avoiding reminders of the trauma, negative thoughts and mood, being very alert and having a physical response to sudden changes that could be a sign of danger, intense feelings of distress when reminded of a tragic event, extreme physical reactions to reminders of trauma such as a nausea, sweating or a pounding heart (palpitations), invasive, upsetting memories of a tragedy, loss of interest in life and daily activities, feeling emotionally numb and detached from other people, sense of not leading a normal life (not having a positive outlook of your future), avoiding certain activities, thoughts of places that remind you of the tragedy, difficulty remembering important aspects of a tragic event.
Children and teenagers can have extreme responses to trauma, but the symptoms they display are often different to those expressed by adults. They may have symptoms such as bedwetting, reluctance or sudden inability to talk, acting out the event during play and being particularly clingy.
Signs of PTSD can range from panic attacks to eating disorders and cognitive delays to lowered verbal memory capacity. Many trauma survivors also encounter substance abuse issues, as they attempt to self-medicate the negative effects of PTSD.
Just as not every trauma survivor will develop PTSD, not every individual with PTSD will develop the same signs
Everyone will respond differently to traumatic experiences. Feelings of fear, sadness, anger and grief are natural human responses. Sometimes the feelings of fear and anguish stay for a long time and one need help to get through it. There are lots of people to help. Getting timely support might be a factor in preventing the normal stress reactions from developing into PTSD. So seek help early. It is also important to know that there are effective treatments for PTSD and one can recover.
It is important to get treatment for PTSD. Treatments include psychological therapies, physical treatments (medication) and exercise, mindfulness and self-help strategies. Often a combination of treatments works best.
Some people may have suicidal thoughts when things seem following PTSD. If one feels that life is not worth living, it’s really important to seek immediate help. With help, one can overcome these thoughts and stay safe. This is an emergency, so seek or call for help.
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