Post-traumatic stress disorder, known as PTSD, is a serious mental condition related to trauma. PTSD is a disorder that some people who have been through traumatic experiences have. This condition can be acquired either by witnessing scarring incidences or by actually experiencing them.
PTSD condition is also more common than what most people believe it to be. In fact, a random sampling survey found that the prevalence rate of lifelong PTSD in Canada is 9.2%. About 76.1% of respondents also confirmed experiencing at least one traumatic event that resulted in PTSD.
Meanwhile, another study estimates that 7% or 8% of the North American population may experience PTSD at some point. That means it’s an issue that needs to be dealt with, both as a society and individually. In this article we’ll explore the latter, delving into causes, symptoms and treatments of PTSD and Trauma.
Trauma and PTSD
Certain life experiences make it more likely for people to develop this condition. Likewise, certain uncontrollable factors increase the chances of a person developing PTSD. The following are some of the risk factors:
- Gender: Men are more likely to experience trauma in the workplace or through accidents. Women, on the other hand, are more likely to be exposed to child abuse or domestic violence.
- Career: A person’s career can directly affect the likelihood of PTSD. Those that work in high-risk environments, for example, are more prone to accidents that can lead to PTSD.
- Exposure: Experiencing an accident is the most common cause of PTSD. Witnessing a traumatic event as a bystander can also cause the condition to develop in some people.
There is no guarantee that a person will develop the disorder after a traumatic event. Other factors, such as genetics, peer and family support, or resilience can all play a role. PTSD is also not a sign of weakness, contrary to what many people believe.
How PTSD Interferes With Life
PTSD can keep a person from functioning at full capacity. The problems that the symptoms may cause can get in the way of a person’s everyday routine. Even relationships can be affected. Some of the common means by which PTSD can disrupt normal functions are the following:
- Academic and professional impact: The symptoms of PTSD can get in the way of school and work. Trouble concentrating, for example, can reduce a person’s productivity. Anxiety attacks can even cause a person to miss days. A person’s professional or academic life can suffer much as a result.
- Relationships: PTSD can cause many negative changes in a person. It can put a strain on the personal relationships that they have. A study shows that people with PTSD are more likely to have marriage problems that those that don’t.
- Physical and mental health: PTSD causes an increased amount of stress in a person. It can directly impact one’s physical and mental health. Many physical diseases and mental disorders are directly linked with elevated stress levels.
No matter how shallow or severe the impact of PTSD is, professional help is recommended. The best way to deal with the condition is to lessen the severity of the symptoms in the first place.
5 Signs & Symptoms of Trauma and PTSD
People who are suffering from PTSD exhibit multiple distinct symptoms related to the cause of trauma. These are frequently grouped into avoidance, memories, negative thoughts, and arousal symptoms. There are other symptoms aside from these, but some of the most common include:
People with PTSD tend to avoid things related to the source of the trauma. These things can include places, objects, people, or memories. Exposure to these things can cause relapses.
More importantly, this involves a detachment of the person. Some people with PTSD do not just avoid the things related to the trauma. They also detach themselves from the world in general, which leaves them feeling alone. This can be dangerous if left unchecked.
2. Having memories that intrude
One of the classic signs of PTSD is the presence of intrusive memories. It is also the factor that’s most frequently shown in movies and TV. These memories are triggers, reminding a person of the event(s) that led to PTSD in the first place.
Some of the related signs and symptoms to these intrusive memories are the following:
- Frequent memories about the traumatic event
- Remembering disturbing details that cause distress to the person
- Extreme reactions to memories of the traumatic event
- Flashbacks, as if they were reliving the event
These memories return whether the person actively thinks about them or not. The surge of traumatizing memories can cause increased stress, anxiety, guilt, and other negative emotions.
3. Negative thoughts and mood
PTSD can also create a multitude of adverse effects on a person’s thoughts and mood.
The classic symptoms include feelings of hopelessness, detachment, self-blame, guilt, and more. Some clients even report memory loss related to the traumatic event. The condition can also temporarily stunt emotions. Instances of this include difficulties in feeling joy, lack of interest in activities, and emotional numbness, among others.
There are cases when the symptoms do not seem to be directly related to the event that caused PTSD. Some people exhibit changes in mood and thoughts for the worse, seemingly without cause. It could be due to the repression of memories but is still related to PTSD in general.
4. Shifts in reactions
These are more commonly known to psychologists and therapists as arousal symptoms. Arousal symptoms lead to changes in behavior and shifts in how a person reacts.
There are many documented shifts, and some of them are:
- Being frightened or startled more easily
- Self-destructive behavior
- Difficulty sleeping and concentrating
- Mood swings
- Irritability or having emotional outbursts
These shifts and changes can cause many problems in a person’s day-to-day life. These are common roots of relationship troubles and professional problems caused by PTSD.
There are other signs and symptoms that some people with PTSD may exhibit. Some of these include the following:
- Feelings of shame and guilt
- Nightmares and dreams associated with the event
- Aggression (seen in some clients)
- Suicidal thoughts
If you or someone you know have thoughts of suicide, it is imperative to seek help immediately. Call 1-800-273-8255, or visit the Crisis Services Canada site.
How to Overcome Trauma and PTSD
There are many ways of coping with trauma. Some people resort to substance use and abuse to cope. However, it is not necessary. Some healthy ways of dealing with and overcoming trauma and PTSD are the following:
1. Mindfulness techniques
Some report that mindfulness techniques can help lessen the effects of symptoms. The stress caused by PTSD can cause a variety of negative effect on the sufferers. Mindfulness techniques also mitigate the impact that stress may have on the person. Some of the best mindfulness techniques and methods include the following:
- Breathing exercises
These techniques may have short-term and long-term benefits. Some use multiple techniques to great advantage. See what techniques you best respond to and do them regularly.
Healthy distractions are also beneficial to those with PTSD. Distracting oneself with work, for example, can help. Others, like finding a new hobby, learning a new sport, or going out with friends, also provide benefits.
Some people develop unhealthy distractions. Examples include substance use and abuse, gambling, or self-destructive behavior. These should be avoided at all costs, as they can further aggravate the symptoms of PTSD. These behaviors can even lead to the development of other disorders.
Counseling is one of the best ways of dealing with PTSD. A licensed therapist can help one cope the right way. A therapist can also use psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, to address the issues of the client. Psychotherapy is a healthy way of getting to the root of the problem and helping the client cope.
4. Processing experiences healthily
It can be hard to talk about traumatic experiences. However, getting over the incident involves healthy processing. A person must be able to process the experiences healthily to make the recovery sustainable. Doing so can help reduce the effects of the symptoms and benefit them in the long run.
5. Communicate properly
Proper communication with family, friends, and other loved ones is also necessary. PTSD can place a tremendous amount of strain on personal relationships. Acceptance and understanding are both needed, and communication is the best way of attaining these.
6. Live a healthy lifestyle
Finally, living a healthy lifestyle can benefit people living with PTSD both physically and mentally. Regular exercise, a proper diet, and avoiding substances can all help a person recover.
Spot the Signs of PTSD and Overcome Trauma
If you or someone you know has been through a traumatic experience, watch out for the signs of PTSD.
While not all people that experience trauma develops PTSD, it still helps to be cautious. If the signs become apparent, then consult with a therapist to properly deal with the condition. A professional can help mitigate these symptoms. It can also prevent the condition from further getting in the way of daily life.
Capitol Choice Counseling has the best therapists that are highly experienced in dealing with PTSD. We have licensed and experienced professionals, and we have been serving Eastern Ontario since 2006. Take advantage of our large range of expertise and proven record in helping people in Ottawa and surrounding communities.
Contact us today to get started on the road to well being.