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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?

PTSD is typically developed after an individual has experienced a shocking, scary, dangerous, or unexpected event. However, not all people who develop PTSD have experienced such traumatic event. Some people have developed it after an unexpected death of a loved one. In fact, the National Center for PTSD estimated that about 8 out of 100 people will experience PTSD at some point in their lived.

What are the risk factors that influence the development of PTSD?

  • Getting hurt
  • History of either mental illness or substance abuse
  • Dealing with additional extra stress after the traumatic/dangerous event or trauma
  • Seeing people being hurt or killed
  • Lack of social support after the event
  • Experiencing atraumatic event yourself including an abusive relationship

What resilience factors can reduce the development of PTSD?

  • Social support
  • Support group
  • Having a coping strategy
  • Effective reactions to an event despite the fear

What are the symptoms for adults?

  • Feeling a great distress
  • Disruptions in daily life activities
  • Negative beliefs and feelings
  • To be diagnosed with PTSD, they must have experienced ALL of the following for a period of at least 1 month:
    • At least one re-experiencing symptom (flashback, bad dreams, frightening thoughts)
    • At least one avoidance symptom (staying away from place or object for example, that remind you of traumatic experience)
    • At least 2 arousal and reactivity symptoms (easily startled, difficulty sleeping, angry outbursts)
    • At least 2 cognition and mood symptoms (negative thoughts about oneself/world, feelings of guilt or blame, loss of interest in enjoyable activities)
  • Symptoms mentioned have to last for about 3 or more months for diagnosis

What are the symptoms for children under age 6?

Although the reactions can be similar, teens and children may have other reactions such as:

  • Wetting the bed even though they have already been taught on how to use the toilet
  • Forgetting/unable to talk
  • Being clingy with caregiver
  • Acting out the traumatic event during playtime
  • Thoughts of revenge

How is PTSD treated?

  • Medications
  • Psychotherapy
    • Exposure Therapy
      • Helps individuals face & control their fear
    • Cognitive Restructuring
      • Allows people to make sense of their bad memories

How can I help someone with PTSD?

  • Help them get the right diagnosis & treatment
  • Encourage them to get treatment & to stick with it (i.e. accompany them to the doctor)
  • Offer them emotional support
  • Gain knowledge yourself of what it’s like to have PTSD and what it is
  • Listen carefully
  • Never ignore their comments (i.e. death or desire to wanting their life to end)

How can I help myself?

  • Accept the fact that you may have PTSD and that it may be a slow process of healing, but you can get better
  • Talk to your doctor about your options
  • Set goals
    • Prioritize
  • Engage in activities with your loved ones
  • Know what to expect
  • Communicate with others what you are feeling (i.e. your trigger symptoms)