The Mayo Clinic describes it as “a mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event.”
PTSD can’t be cured and shouldn’t be stigmatized. The symptoms may not pop up until months after an event, but they can be managed for most people with a combination of clinical care and medication, if needed.
What are the symptoms of PTSD?
PTSD can affect anyone, driven by recurring memories of a traumatic experience. First responders, medical professionals, and combat veterans who were subjected to trauma are likely to be hit with PTSD. Studies by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has documented its symptoms amongst U.S. soldiers in every military battle since the Vietnam War. The symptoms begin within six months of the trauma and may continue for the rest of their lives.
A mental health professional, usually a psychologist or psychiatrist, can help determine if you’re experiencing PTSD and how to treat it.
Diagnosis is based on these symptoms: Re-experiencing, avoidance, arousal and reactivity, and mood and cognition.
- Bad dreams while sleeping – Sometimes resulting in the person acting out the trauma and talking when fully asleep.
- Flashbacks which occur while the person is awake – In this case, you may relive the trauma over and over, and experience physical symptoms like a racing heart or sweating.
- You experience disturbing thoughts while awake.
Can I control or manage PTSD symptoms?
Yes, PTSD symptoms can be controlled or managed, often through a combination of psychotherapy, holistic treatment, and doctor-prescribed medications for anxiety and other mood disorders. People who experience PTSD may be ideal candidates for a medicine known as ketamine. According to Psychiatry Advisor, ketamine “is increasingly being used to treat mood disorders, such as treatment-resistant depression, anxiety disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Several studies have also found it to be effective for treating suicidal ideation.”
- Avoiding reminders of the trauma – This happens on purpose or subconsciously as you stay away from places, events, or people who rekindle memories of the key trauma. Some combat veterans will not visit cemeteries or war monuments dedicated to those lost in battle, and don’t participate in Memorial Day celebrations because of the guilt of surviving battle while others didn’t.
- Thoughts or feelings linked to the trauma are also off-limits.
Arousal and reactivity symptoms:
- Memories of a shell burst, accident, or physical attack may cause the person to be suddenly startled or flinch.
- If you suffer from PTSD you may be exhibit aggressive behavior or be easily irritated.
- There are other emotional and physical signs too, like always watching your surroundings.
- You find yourself “on edge” in some settings or are tense.
- You may have trouble sleeping or controlling your anger.
Cognition and mood symptoms:
- Memory problems related to the event, even when it’s recalled in flashbacks or nightmares.
- You may think negatively of yourself and others, have trust issues, and question your self-worth
- The person is caught in a cycle of shame and guilt, believing her actions caused the trauma and if she had acted differently it could’ve been avoided.
Think of the trauma a U.S. combat soldier faced in Afghanistan or the horror of a first responder after the Twin Tower attacks in New York, and you may understand the effects of delayed mental disorder on someone who’s affected by PTSD. Not everyone who walks away unscathed from a life-threatening event will have PTSD, but if you do, you may carry risk markers described by the National Institute of Mental Health:
- Survived a terrifying event or trauma.
- Carries significant physical or psychological injuries.
- Acted as an observer when someone else was seriously injured or killed.
- Survived a childhood trauma.
- Harbor feelings of horror, helplessness, or extreme fear centered on a past event.
- Lack of access to social support after the event.
- Subject to intense stress related to injury and pain, the death of a loved one, or losing your home or experiencing financial hardships.
- Substance abuse or mental illness.
If you or someone you love is suffering from PTSD, get help immediately. Help for veterans is available, but others are encouraged to find a doctor with experience treating patients who’ve been traumatized. Our practice specializes in the treatment of PTSD and other mood disorders using IV Ketamine. On average we see upwards of a 75% success rate for those patients that are good candidates for the treatment.
If you are reading this blog post and are suffering from PTSD or know someone who is we would like to invite you to call us today for a free consultation to learn more. There is hope. We can help.