Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD is a mental health disorder that occurs due to a traumatic experience that a person has suffered from during a particular stage of their life. Although it was initially discovered in combat veterans, modern-day studies in psychology and mental health illnesses conclude that PTSD can occur in any person, regardless of their age, gender, ethnicity, or profession.
PTSD is considered a part of anxiety disorders. Its root cause originates from any traumatic or shocking experience that renders a person incapable of moving forward with their regular life without recalling that event subconsciously. The trauma or distress encountered during such an event can carry on throughout a person’s life and may affect their routine activities to a considerable level. It affects mentally and can also bear effects on the overall physiological health of a person if not addressed or treated correctly.
The primary cause of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is suffering through a trauma that leaves a deep imprint on one’s mental health for the entirety of their lives. Researchers have performed multiple types of research to figure out why few persons having undergone a traumatic experience suffer from PTSD while others don’t. Through collective data, it has been stated that at least one out of three people who have gone through a severe trauma develops PTSD.
Various causes of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder include:
The Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder can present during the initial stage after facing a traumatic experience or manifest themselves later at some point in life, even after a year or so in some instances. These symptoms can influence the life of a person in multiple ways, ranging from distress among close relationships, inability to maintain a healthy social circle, unsatisfactory performance in professional tasks, and difficulty in carrying out simple readings of routine life.
The symptoms of PTSD are generally classified into the following types.
The first step towards a diagnosis of PTSD is to get in touch with a professional who has been trained to deal with mental health and anxiety disorders. Often people have a hard time voluntarily recalling their memories of a traumatic event and specifications associated with it that can aid in diagnosis. It is always essential to prioritize patients’ consent and ask them to disclose as much as they are comfortable within the early stages of diagnosis.
The primary diagnosis of PTSD can be divided into two components:
1. Psychological evaluation
Psychological evaluation of a person suspected with PTSD involved detailed history taking, discussion about the traumatic incident, the onset of symptoms and their effect in routine life, changes in behavioral patterns, etc. The most preferred method of making an accurate diagnosis of PTSD is applying the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) criteria issued by the American Psychiatric Association (ASA).
According to the DSM-5, the person must fulfill the following criterion to be diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder:
2. Physical examination
It involves detailed questions about any physical symptoms the person might experience after the traumatic event. These can include irregular breathing patterns, increased heart rate, palpitations, chest pain, headaches, changes in appetite, increase or decrease in weight, nausea or vomiting, etc. It is necessary to specify whether these symptoms occur in coherence with other signs of PTSD or are experienced from another mental/ physical illness.
PTSD can be divided into five types based on diagnostic criteria, each of which can be followed with a particular set of treatment and therapy. The five types of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder are as follows:
The treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is usually a combination of psychotherapy and medication. It is highly dependent on the severity and recurrence of symptoms. Before beginning with any intervention, it is essential to figure out the type of PTSD a person is suffering from with the help of the diagnostic criterion. This will facilitate the treatment procedure and prevent the overuse of medications if the person can only be treated with therapy and counseling. Also, it is essential to reassure the person that PTSD is treatable and its management can significantly improve the quality of their life.
The major types of psychological therapies used are treating and counseling patients who have PTSD. These include:
Other treatment therapies like Prolonged Exposure Therapy (PE), Brief Eclectic Psychotherapy (BEP), Narrative Exposure Therapy (NET), and Stress Inoculation Training (SIT) have also been proven to be effective in the treatment of PTSD.
Medication is an essential component of treating PTSD that goes hand in hand with therapy and counseling. In most cases, medication is not required, and the patient recovers well from treatments alone. But in some instances where the person does not feel relieved despite attending multiple therapies or having other co-morbid mental illnesses, medication might become necessary. Most commonly prescribed medicines for PTSD include fluoxetine, paroxetine, and venlafaxine. If the patient is experiencing symptoms of depression, SSRIs or benzodiazepines might be prescribed considering the duration and severity of symptoms. Medications for associated physiological symptoms like nausea or vomiting, headaches, insomnia, etc., might be defined as well.
Standard management measures include:
Our clinical experts continually monitor the health and medical content posted on CURA4U, and we update our blogs and articles when new information becomes available. Last reviewed by Dr.Saad Zia on May 27, 2023.
Psychiatry.org - What is Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?
NIMH » Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (nih.gov)