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Post Traumatic Stress Disorder : Definition, Symptoms, Treatments, Causes

Good and bad, ups and downs all are these part of lives. Though the extend of bad varies from one person to another. Sometimes we get to witness a horrifying event or situation. Such situations are exceedingly shocking. Some get over them in sometime but for some such situations leave scars beyond repair. Such people experience post traumatic stress reactions that don’t go away and often gets worse with time.

 Post Traumatic Stress Disorder - Definition, Symptoms, Treatments, Causes



The inability to recover after beholding or being a part of a petrified or life threatening situations like natural disasters, physical, mental , verbal or sexual assaults, terrorist attacks, wars, military combats etc is known as post traumatic stress disorder. It is quite normal to have flashbacks or nightmares or difficulty in sleeping after witnessing an event that can shock you from your head to toe and give you hard chills through your backbone but for people suffering with post traumatic disorder, these nightmares and flashbacks don’t stop and gets worse with time. It even interferes with the normal day to day activities.

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People affected with post-traumatic stress disorder experience the following four kinds of symptoms:

1) Re-experiencing Symptoms

These are generally triggered by the reminders of the events and include activities that relieve the traumatic event. Such symptoms include- nightmares, scary thoughts, unpleasant dreams or flashbacks that relieve the disheartening memories over and over again and sometimes involves racing heart, sweating etc.

2) Arousal Symptoms

People might feel continually alert post a traumatic disorder. This situation is also known as emotional arousal. Here one is always jumpy nervous and alert and on the lookout of the danger. These include difficulty in sleeping, outbursts of anger, interference in eating, sleeping or concentrating, a sudden occurrence of irritability, being easily startled etc.

3) Avoiding and Numbing Symptoms

These are the symptoms that indicates that the victim of post-traumatic stress disorder is trying to avoid the triggers of the reminders of the traumatic events.The victim tries to avoid the places where the traumatic event occurred and also tries to be at a distance from all unpleasant memories and thoughts related to the traumatic event. This might also force him/her to change his/her daily routine.

4) Cognition and Mood Symptoms

These gets worse with time and makes one feel separated from their families. These include lack of liveliness, negative thoughts about own or others, overriding feeling of guilt or culpability or blame etc.

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Counselling and SSRI medicines are said to be the best and the most effective treatments for post-traumatic stress disorders. These can go a long way in relieving your symptoms to an extent. These are explained below:

1) Counselling

Counselling involves talking about your problems to your therapist. There are different kinds of counselling that are used in the treatment of post traumatic stress disorder. They are: a) Exposure theory in which one talks about the disheartening event over and over again and again until and unless his or her fear starts dropping down. b) Cognitive therapy in which one learns how to alter the thoughts about the traumatic events that don’t exist or that contribute to stress. c) EMDR or Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing where in one focus on the body language while talking about the terrifying event.

2) Medicines

SSRI medicines or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are nothing but anti depressants that enables one to relieve their feelings of sadness, agony or agitation or worry. Another medicine known as prazosin is also an effective way of relieving the nightmares that follow the traumatic events.


Following are the identified causes of post traumatic stress disorder:

1) Genetic Composition

Genes are at times responsible for various anxiety disorders. If mother, father or first degree relatives are affected with post traumatic stress disorder then it does make one susceptible to post traumatic stress disorder.

2) Psychological Problems

People who are already been victimized with psychological problems like depression or anxiety do run the risk of being affected by post traumatic stress disorder.

3) Brain Structures

There are certain regions of the brain that regulate fear and emotions. These structures are different in people who develop post traumatic stress disorder than those who don’t. Thus the architecture of one’s brain can also be a determining factor for PTSD.

4) Environmental Factors

Children who have grown in a family where they were constantly met with traumatic events or people who are continually exposed to stress and trauma are more likely to develop post traumatic stress disorder.

Risk factors for post traumatic stress disorder includes :

  1. Experience of a very traumatic event
  2. Lack of good family and friends support
  3. Substance misuse like drug or alcohol abuse
  4. Being a witness to events like a deadly road accident, terrorist attacks, disasters, wars, combat exposure etc
  5. Childhood trauma or presence of unusual and constant stress
  6. Unexpected accident or death of loved ones
  7. Prolonged violence or sexual and physical abuse

So this was all that one should know about post traumatic stress disorder. Don’t ignore if you or someone around you needs helps. Ask for a hand or lend a land if required. You can be a savior. Be it yours or someone else. Just be aware and make the right decisions.

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