What Causes PTSD & How Do You Treat It
As beautiful and wonderful as life can be, it also has a way of testing us from time to time. While we’ll all be tested in one way or another in our respective lives, not everyone is as blessed as others and some people will face harder tests than others. It’s just the way the world works.
Some of you are destined to overcome these obstacles in life and some will even strive in them. Unfortunately, others will succumb to the many tests and tragedies life presents us with on a daily basis. Don’t worry, you’re not alone in this fight and there are things you can do to get help.
If you’re someone who has witnessed or experienced a traumatic life experience, it’s important not to hide from your symptoms — especially since it could make the situation worse. In fact, you could be living with something called posttraumatic stress disorder, also known as PTSD.
So, what is PTSD?
Posttraumatic stress disorder is a type of disorder that occurs in an individual after they experience or witness a traumatic life event. It was originally known as ‘shell shock’ in World War I veterans, but has evolved into its own psychiatric disorder that impacts millions of people.
For example, PTSD can occur after someone experiences a natural disaster, serious injury, an act of terrorism, any type of war or combat, sexual abuse, rape, or a near-death experience. PTSD victims experience persistent and disturbing thoughts and emotions related to that event.
Some individuals might relive the traumatic experience in their mind through flashbacks and nightmares. Others might feel a sense of anger, fear, detachment, or estrangement as a result of the event. They’ll often avoid situations that remind them of the event, no matter what it is.
What Are the Main Causes of PTSD?
Like we mentioned above, there are a wide number of events that can trigger posttraumatic stress disorder in an individual. Some people can move past these events and never experience PTSD, while others seem to be stuck with that event for the rest of their lives.
Scientists and researchers are still trying to figure out why some people develop PTSD after a traumatic event and some people don’t. While it’s not 100% clear, they have uncovered several theories that might explain why this difference occurs in some people. Let’s take a look at them:
- Survival Mechanism – after a traumatic event, it’s common for people to experience flashbacks and have a heightened sense of arousal (being ‘on-edge’). These are normal survival mechanisms that force you to be better prepared in the event it happens again. Unfortunately, PTSD victims can’t control or manage these flashbacks and behaviors.
- Brain Structure – the hippocampus is a center of focus in PTSD victims. It’s the part of the brain that processes memories, fear, anxiety, and flashbacks. Brains scans show that PTSD victims have a smaller hippocampus than other people. It’s believed that a faulty hippocampus can lead to increased and sustained anxiety and fear.
- Increased Adrenaline – scientists and researchers have also uncovered that PTSD victims have higher levels of adrenaline. It’s a chemical the body produces and releases in response to danger, also known as the fight or flight response. PTSD victims seem to produce and release adrenaline frequently, even when no danger is present.
While these three theories shed some light on why some people might be experiencing PTSD symptoms, it’s not a one-size-fits-all cause for concern. Some victims don’t have a smaller hippocampus and some don’t have increased adrenaline, so research is still ongoing.
How Do You Treat PTSD?
If you or someone you know has recently been involved in a traumatic life event of any kind, it’s important they receive immediate help to avoid the symptoms from worsening over time. Keep in mind, these symptoms can cause a wide amount of strain on an individual’s well-being.
Here are some of the most popular and common treatments available for PTSD:
- Watchful Waiting – individuals that experience mild symptoms or symptoms for less than four weeks will be recommended for watchful waiting. Since 66% of people that experience a traumatic event get better within a month, it’s important to monitor symptoms to see if they improve or get worse. If they worsen, treatment is needed.
- Therapy Options – there are a wide range of different therapies available for PTSD victims. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), and group therapy are three of the most common and popular.
- Medication – there are a number of different medications and antidepressants available for PTSD symptoms that are often recommended in addition to therapy. These include paroxetine, sertraline, mirtazapine, amitriptyline or phenelzine. Only paroxetine and sertraline are prescribed exclusively for posttraumatic stress disorder.
In order to ensure you receive the right treatment, you should speak with a mental health professional and receive a proper diagnosis for PTSD. It might take a bit of trial and error, but the right treatment option is out there. The main thing is remembering to trust the process.
Don’t Hesitate to Receive the Help You Need!
Posttraumatic stress disorder is a serious psychiatric disorder that shouldn’t be overlooked or avoided. Despite the fact that only one out of three individuals that experience a traumatic event are diagnosed with PTSD, you should never run away or hide from your daily symptoms.
Instead, you should seek help from a mental health professional immediately. If you’re struggling to find the right help, you can contact our good friends over at BetterHelp. They specialize and dedicate themselves to helping match people just like you to proven and trusted professionals. For more information on how to treat PTSD, read this article: https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/therapy/using-cognitive-processing-therapy-for-ptsd/.
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