Often we come across individuals - friends or loved ones - who suddenly stop doing what they liked most, sleep too less or too much, avoid going to certain places or refuse to meet certain people. They may also be easily startled and fight with their loved ones, even you, for no apparent reason. If the person is a child, he or she may even cry too much, complain of nightmares and make excuses not to go to school or to meet people, without being able to explain why. If you have made the mistake of calling it a childish tantrum, be it in case of a child or an adult, it is better to consider the option of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD first. It may make you startled, but your child, friend or loved one could have undergone intense physical, sexual or psychological trauma, which may have brought on this kind of behavior. The problem is that most of us are not equipped to deal with intense trauma. We prefer to remain in denial that there is an issue that needs to be addressed immediately. In case your loved one is suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, explore it in detail and then try to help him/ her out of the situation.
What Is PTSD
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a severe anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to any event that results in psychological trauma. This event may involve the threat of death to oneself or to someone else, or threat to one's own or someone else's physical, sexual, or psychological integrity, overwhelming the individual's psychological defenses. The sufferers tend to re-experience the traumatic event(s) over and over again, avoid places, people, or other things that remind them of the event and become extremely sensitive to normal life experiences as well.
Symptoms & Warning Signs
The symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can be classified into the following categories:
- Having flashbacks - reliving the trauma over and over again, including the physical symptoms like a racing heart or sweating
- Getting recurring bad dreams
- Suffering from frightening thoughts
- Staying away from places, events, or objects that are reminders of the traumatic event
- Feeling emotionally numb
- Suffering from strong guilt, depression, or worry
- Losing interest in activities that were enjoyable in the past
- Having trouble in recalling the traumatic event
- Being startled easily
- Feeling tense or "on edge" all the time
- Having difficulty in sleeping
- Becoming vulerable to angry outbursts
The treatment for PTSD takes place at both medical and psychological levels. Providing information about the illness, helping the individual manage the trauma by talking about it openly, teaching him/ her ways to manage the symptoms, and exploration and modification of inaccurate ways of thinking about the trauma are the usual techniques used. At times, medications are also used and they mainly help decrease the physical symptoms associated with the problem. Individuals with PTSD are much less likely to experience a relapse of their problem, if antidepressant treatment is continued for at least a year.