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?
- Exposure Therapy
- Helps individuals face & control their fear
- Cognitive Restructuring
- Allows people to make sense of their bad memories
- Exposure Therapy
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
- Engage in activities with your loved ones
- Know what to expect
- Communicate with others what you are feeling (i.e. your trigger symptoms)