Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a type of mental health condition that is the direct result of a traumatic, terrifying, stressful, or painfully emotional event. This condition is such that it may leads to a variety of different types of adjustment difficulties. PTSD symptoms vary in intensity over a period of time, with some of these memories either at an almost subconscious level, or, at times, rising forcibly to the surface causing a mental health crisis.
Reminders of certain specific events that have happened to an individual during their lifetime can vary in level, much as the events, themselves, vary in level form person to person in both intensity and types of trauma. These traumatic conditions or events may also present in a more or less stressful manner to each particular individual, independent of the severity or length of trauma, in and of, itself.
This is believed to be attributed to degrees of coping abilities, up to and including denial. The way any person perceives or remembers event is the factor that most importantly impacts the severity of not only the symptomatic presentation, but how the individual person reacts at the time of the PTSD onset triggering event, and even the management of the same of PTSD.
As a person might well imagine there are many terrible things that people do to hut each other all the time, and many of these lead to anxiety, or other under diagnosed mental health issues over time, however, with PTSD the events are usual related to more intensely painful physical and/or emotional type traumas. Examples include sexual assault or abuse, childhood abuse, prolonged emotional abuse, going through periods of extreme lack of food or housing, and of course, combat experiences during physical fighting during the course of one military mission, or another.
Individuals can not just “stop thinking about these things” and being told “you’re not currently under threat this minute” is not helpful, because anything can cause these severe traumatic memories to re-surge as if the event is happening all over again. A car back firing can sound very much like a gun firing, or, even worse in today’s world, the sound of a gun firing could be actually happening somewhere near the individual. A former victim of sexual abuse or assault may believe that an individual in the grocery store parking lot is following them, and, if it’s happening or not it can lead to a PTSD event. Complicating matters further does the PTSD sufferer ignore these feelings out of a misguided belief it’s a memory response, at their own possible peril?
Post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms may happen within a month of the traumatic event, or may sometimes not appear until many years after the actual event. Memory repression may happen, as well as both financial limits and remaining psychotic social stigmas that still exist in 2023. These symptoms may cause significant problems in both social or work situations, as well as in personal relationships. In certain cases.
PTSD symptoms can be grouped into four types; intrusive memories, avoidance, negative changes in thinking and mood, as well as changes in both physical and emotional reactions to both real and perceived situations.
These symptoms can vary over time, and may also vary from person to person. These symptoms will generally include intrusive memories (which include unwanted memories of the traumatic event); reliving the traumatic event in a flashback, as if it is currently occurring, again; dreams or nightmares; emotional distress or physical reactions to any situation that reminds you of the traumatic event; avoiding thoughts or talking about the event(s); avoiding places, people or activities that remind you of traumatic event; negative changes in thinking and mood (including negative self thoughts or negative thoughts of those around you, as well as hopelessness about the future; memory problems, feeling detached from family or friends, or having difficulty maintaining close relationships. The individual may also experience lack of interest in activities once enjoyed; feeling emotionally numb; being easily startled or frightened; trouble concentrating or sleeping; angry outbursts; overwhelming guilt or shame; and not only being on guard for danger but acting out in self destructive ways.
Getting appropriate medical treatment after PTSD symptoms develop can not only critical to reducing the symptoms and functions, but can literally save a life. If an individual has disturbing thoughts or feelings about a traumatic event for more than a month speak to a your medical provider or a mental health professional. Getting treatment as soon as possible can prevent these PTSD symptoms from becoming worse. If you are someone you know is having suicidal thoughts immediately reach out to a close friend or trusted loved one, contact a minister or spiritual leader in your own faith community, or contact a suicide hotline. In the United States call or text 988 to reach the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, which is available 24 hours a day, seven days per week. These services are not only free, but confidential.
Get immediate emergency help if you think that you or someone you know may hurt themselves (or others) by calling 911 immediately. You may also, alternatively, if safely possible, transport the person to he nearest hospital emergency room.
Betty Cohn is a retired registered nurse with 35 years of experience in the medical field in a variety of roles. She will write a semi-monthly column about medical-related topics and welcomes questions and suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org.