With awareness and treatment, you can overcome the effects of PTSD ( Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), and live a fulfilling life, writes Vinita Alvares Fernandes
“There is no timestamp on trauma. There isn’t a formula you can insert yourself into to get from horror to healed. Be patient. Take up space. Let your journey be the balm.” – Dawn Serra
What is trauma?
Going through a very stressful, threatening, frightening or distressing time in your life due to certain unpleasant events is called trauma. Trauma can be emotional, psychological or even physical. When we talk about emotional or psychological trauma, we often refer to situations or experiences that affect us in a negative way so we find them traumatic.
Traumatic events can affect anyone, at any age and can cause long lasting harm if it isn’t addressed or treated properly. Everyone reacts differently to trauma. Some might get over the event quickly, some might suppress their feelings and some might be affected by it for a long time afterward.
There are several types of trauma —
- Acute trauma: This is due to a single stressful or dangerous event.
- Chronic trauma: This results from repeated and prolonged exposure to highly stressful and traumatic events like abuse, bullying or domestic violence.
- Complex trauma: This results from exposure to multiple traumatic events over the course of your life.
- Secondary trauma or vicarious trauma: In this form of trauma, a person develops trauma symptoms from being in close contact with someone who has experienced a traumatic event.
What is Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)?
Post traumatic stress disorder or PTSD is a very serious mental condition that some people develop after a severely shocking, terrifying or traumatic event. After experiencing trauma, it’s common, almost normal to struggle with fear, anxiety and sadness. It takes some time to get back to your everyday life.
Most people get better with time. If these traumatic thoughts, feelings and effects on your everyday life don’t fade away, chances are you have PTSD. They can last for months or years and can even get worse as time goes by. PTSD develops in about 1 in 3 people who experience severe trauma.
PTSD causes problems in your daily life, it can affect your professional and personal relationships, it gravely affects your mental health and can even take a toll on your physical health. But there is a silver lining. If you effectively treat your PTSD, you can live a fulfilling life.
- intrusive and recurring thoughts about a traumatic event
- moodiness, hopelessness, numbness and anxiety
- relentlessness and uneasiness
- guilt or shame
- a loss of interest in relationships, your job or activities and hobbies you used to enjoy
- nightmares or flashbacks of the trauma
- insomnia, struggling to sleep or being unable to get out of bed
- self harming or considering to self harm through neglect or intentionally
Events that can cause PTSD-
- Serious accidents (vehicular or injuries)
- Domestic violence or abuse
- Physical assault
- Sexual assault, molestation or rape
- Mental and physical abuse (from childhood or adulthood)
- Serious health problems or a life changing health diagnosis
- Losing someone close to you (family member, pet, friend)
- Exposure to traumatic events at work like bullying, sexism or racism
- Terrorism, war, political unrest or working for the armed forces
- Burglary, being mugged, stalking or robbery
- Natural disasters like earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, fires, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis
- Torture or imprisonment
While these are the most common causes of PTSD, certain life events that may not seem serious enough to one person can cause PTSD in another.
What is life PTSD and what common life events can cause PTSD?
When you think of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), you might think of severe triggers like childhood trauma or having been part of a war. Unfortunately, for some there are many common everyday life events that can put you at risk of PTSD as well.
A divorce you didn’t see coming can be traumatic and if you don’t handle it well it can lead to PTSD.
Natural disasters are another event that causes widespread trauma.
Living with a life threatening illness or being diagnosed with a medical condition can put you at risk of developing PTSD symptoms.
Caring for a loved one who is suffering can lead to PTSD as well. While you may not be the person suffering physically you can suffer mentally. Anxiety, reliving unpleasant moments, withdrawing from people are some of the PTSD symptoms caregivers tend to experience.
Car accidents are one of the most common traumatic occurrences that more often than not cause PTSD.
Who’s at risk of developing PTSD?
While it isn’t fully understood why some people develop PTSD and others do not, there are certain factors that appear to make some people more prone to developing PTSD.
- If you have had depression or anxiety in the past and you didn’t not receive enough support or treatment for it you can develop PTSD after a traumatic event.
- PTSD is also genetically influenced. For example if a parent or family member has mental health problems, your chance of developing a mental health condition or PTSD is high.
- PTSD can also be a result of an instinctive mechanism to help you survive further traumatic experiences.
- High adrenaline levels and stress hormone levels can cause PTSD.
- Certain chemical changes in the brain can affect your memory and emotions which can lead to PTSD symptoms as well.
Seeking help to deal with PTSD —
While there’s no cure for this condition, it’s important to seek immediate and professional help if you or someone you know is experiencing PTSD symptoms because without it the condition usually doesn’t get better. Your doctor may recommend therapies, support groups, journaling, medication or lifestyle changes based on the severity of your symptoms.
Many people cope with PTSD more than you might expect. With awareness and treatment, you can overcome the effects of PTSD and live a fulfilling life.
It’s never too late to get help.
Thanks Vinita i enjoy your columns, so informative & precise