If you love history, you probably have come across the term “shell shock” or “combat fatigue.” The two terms were popularly used interchangeably to refer to a mental condition that affected soldiers after the First and Second World War.
By then, the condition was thought to affect only the war veterans, especially Latinos and black Americans, but consequent psychiatric research proved that everyone could fall victim to the disease.
Today, the mental condition is known as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The mental sickness develops in all people regardless of gender, race, occupation, or ethnicity. PTSD develops in people who have experienced, witnessed, and survived shocking and dangerous events like war, fires, death of loved ones, horrible accidents, and other mentally disturbing incidents.
Fortunately, PTSD is easy to diagnose and treat if you seek early intervention from a qualified psychiatrist.
The 4 Common Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Post-traumatic stress disorder manifests itself through intense, disturbing feelings and thoughts related to a traumatic event one has witnessed. Suppose you’ve had a traumatic experience, and you involuntarily relive the event through horrible nightmares, have constant feelings of sadness, fear, or withdrawal from your loved ones.
The chances are high that you have PTSD, and you need to seek psychiatric assistance from a certified mental health practitioner. Here are the most prevalent symptoms of PTSD.
1. Re-Experiencing Symptoms
Re-experiencing refers to the situation whereby you relive the traumatic event long after it happened. The symptoms manifest themselves through intrusive thoughts such as involuntary, recurrent, and distressing memories and flashbacks of the event. The flashbacks can be so severe that the patients feel like the events were happening again right before their eyes.
The patient also experiences frightening thoughts, terrifying dreams, and nightmares associated with the traumatic event. Re-experiencing symptoms can destabilize the patient’s career, relationships, family, and general social life.
2. Avoidance Symptoms
People who have PTSD tend to avoid thinking or talking about things that may remind them of the traumatic events that they witnessed in the past. They also avoid doing certain things, visiting particular places, and associating with specific people or groups that may bring back unwanted memories.
For instance, people who have experienced and survived a shipwreck may avoid traveling on a ship. They may also avoid visiting large water bodies or beaches since seeing the ocean may trigger the return of traumatic memories. They even avoid talking about the event and how they feel about it.
3. Cognition and Mood Alterations
People with PTSD develop negative changes in their cognition and mood. The changes manifest through negative thoughts about themselves, the people around them, specific events, or objects they associate with the traumatic experience. Thoughts about the traumatic incident’s causes and effects lead to overwhelming feelings of self-guilt, self-blame, ongoing fear, shame, and sadness.
Eventually, people with PTSD become physically and emotionally detached from their loved ones, friends, and family.
4. Arousal Symptoms
Arousal symptoms are characterized by sudden changes in physical and emotional reactions. Persons who have PTSD become easily startled whenever a stimulus reminds them of the particular event that caused their mental illness. For instance, watching a news item may make a victim of a sexual attack remember the incident and feel afraid and fearful.
Other behavior changes include lack of sleep, irritability, anger outbursts, and excessive substance abuse.
Contrary to earlier misconception, PTSD is not a mental disease only war veterans suffer from. The condition can affect everyone, including children and persons who have experienced or witnessed disturbing events, accidents, sexual assault, among other traumatizing events.
Fortunately, PTSD is treatable. If you have been through a horrible event and have any of the symptoms above, visit professional mental health care providers like BetterHelp.