What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

By: Grace Giddings (@giddings_grace)

The Mayo Clinic defines Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as “a mental triggered by experiencing or seeing a terrifying event. Although a single event can trigger PTSD, it can also be triggered by a string of events that occurs over an extended period. This type of PTSD is called Complex PTSD. There are many symptoms of PTSD including nightmares, flashbacks, and severe anxiety. This is a medical condition that requires treatment. The diagnoses of PTSD is made by a medical professional, in particular, a mental health professional.

PTSD is commonly thought of as the disease of the soldier, but PTSD can be caused by any traumatic event. During this traumatic event, a person may experience a fight or flight response that is often called hyperarousal. This experience causes a person’s brain to resort to a more primitive state sometimes called the “lizard brain.” When a person has PTSD, the brain continually re-experiences that event and continues to resort to this fight or flight response.

This causes constant “re-traumatization,” which can leave a person pretty drained. 
Everybody experiences traumatic things differently; therefore, the symptoms of PTSD vary from person to person. There are some common symptoms of PTSD, including nightmares, flashbacks, anxiety, and depression or guilt. Nightmares occur when a person’s unconscious mind brings up memories from the past or morphs memories into scary intrusive dreams. Nightmares occur when a person is sleeping.

Flashbacks are like nightmares during the day. Flashbacks are intrusive and cause deep emotional stress. Anxiety can manifest itself in many different ways including but not limited to: withdraw from social situations; fear of the future; and avoidance of places that remind you of the event. Depression is a deep feeling of hopelessness and sadness. With PTSD, depression is often very common. Due to this depression, a person may feel guilty or bad about the experience(s). They may feel as though they are responsible for what happened. This is why it is crucial to be supportive of people with PTSD. They often need a support system to help them cope with this.

There are many treatments for PTSD. Therapy and medication are the most common. Coping with PTSD can be one of the most difficult things that a person can do. This is why a team of specialists often helps to relieve the pain of PTSD. Friends and family can also be very helpful in the treatment of PTSD. Having a support system can build up a person’s confidence and help them to have someone to lean on. 

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a medical condition that requires a medical diagnosis. This disorder has a positive prognosis if properly treated. Trauma is tough. It can hurt a person’s life. PTSD is just as real as life. I wish I could say that bad thing do not happen, but they do. Life can be tough, but with the help of friends, family, and mental health professionals, you can get through anything. PTSD does not define me, and it certainly doesn’t stop me, don’t let it stop you.

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