PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, is a type of anxiety disorder that can develop after a life-threatening or otherwise traumatic event is either witnessed or experienced. While this condition was once referred to as shell shock or battle fatigue syndrome because of its close association with soldiers who experienced combat, PTSD can also manifest after any event that causes intense fear, helplessness or horror, as well as in family members of those directly affected.
Common events that lead to the development of PTSD include exposure to combat, as well as a sexual or physical assault, the unexpected death of a loved one or an accident or natural disaster. While symptoms of the condition typically develop within three months of the event, some people experience PTSD years after the trigger event.
While there’s no way to determine if a person exposed to a traumatic event will develop PTSD, some people are more at risk than others. Adults who have strong familial support in the aftermath are more likely to be able to cope with their feelings in an effective way. More women than men tend to develop PTSD, and it’s also more common in the event of a physical or sexual trauma and among children who have been physically, sexually or emotionally abused.
The more severe the traumatic event and the more stress it causes, the more likely it is that PTSD will develop. For example, it’s much more commonly triggered by situations that are sudden and unexpected, persist for a long time, involve being trapped, are caused by another person and involve death or mutilation (especially when children are involved).
While doctors don’t know exactly why PTSD occurs, experts theorize that after a traumatic event, our bodies continue to be “on guard” against potential danger, leading to psychological and physical manifestations of anxiety.
Although there isn’t a way to predict who will be affected by PTSD, being aware of the symptoms can help you or a loved one get treatment for the condition.
PTSD manifests differently and with degrees of severity, but the most common symptoms include frequently reliving the traumatic event through flashbacks, hallucinations, and nightmares; avoiding people, places, thoughts or situations that are associated with the event; isolation from loved ones; difficulty relating to others; mood swings, irritability and depression; insomnia; and trouble concentrating and remembering.
In addition to emotional symptoms, physical symptoms of PTSD can include increased blood pressure and heart rate, rapid breathing, muscle tension, nausea, and diarrhea.
If you or a loved one is suffering from symptoms of PTSD, the Cady Wellness Institute in Newburgh is here to help. We work closely with our patients to develop the best possible treatment plan for their unique case. We proudly offer EMDR therapy in addition to other psychotherapy methods. You don’t have to live with your PTSD symptoms forever. Contact our office today to schedule your appointment to learn more.