Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is the physiological and psychological disease that affects so many soldiers, first responders and victims of violent crime or tragedy. While the symptoms of PTSD have been recorded for centuries, the understanding of this unique condition has only recently begun to develop.
The brain controls a wide range of emotional and psychological functions through an intricate and somewhat fragile system of chemical signals. When a person is exposed to emotionally intense situations, this system can become overstimulated like a circuit board that receives too much electricity. There are several types of experiences that can cause the emotional response system of the brain to become overwhelmed, and these include the following:
These types of traumatic experiences can cause the brain to shut down or to use various coping mechanisms that can lead to long-term psychological problems. PTSD symptoms can begin immediately after the traumatic event that triggered them or may not present until months or even years later. These symptoms include the following:
In many cases the victims of PTSD do not recognize their own symptoms. It is often up to friends and family to help their loved ones get the treatment they need. Because so many of the most frequent victims of this disease are reluctant to ask for help, the disease may continue and increase in intensity.
The contraction of PTSD is not automatic or guaranteed. While it is impossible to predict exactly who might develop the disorder, there are several risk factors such as the following:
There are also certain resilience factors that may reduce the risk of developing PTSD symptoms, and these include the following:
PTSD is most effectively treated through a combination of medical and psychological therapies. Psychotherapy involves talking through the emotions, thoughts and physiological responses associated with PTSD and learning strategic methods for changing them.
If the source of the trauma is ongoing such as exposure to abusive relationships or high-anxiety professions, then all aspects of the disease must be identified and treated.
If you or someone you love is struggling with symptoms that you fear may be related to posttraumatic stress disorder, please call our toll-free helpline any time of day or night. Our recovery counselors can connect you with the best treatment resources for your exact needs. Call today.