Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

 

Post traumatic stress disorder is a specific type of anxiety disorder that may develop in a person exposed to an extremely stressful traumatic event. Once the person experiences a traumatic event three different types of symptoms may develop :

 

  • Re-experience of traumatic event in at least one of the following ways :
    • Repeated recall or dreams of the event
    • Flashbacks i.e. sudden sense of reliving the past experience. (e.g. as observed in some prisoners of wars)
    • Intense anxiety with any symbol that would remind them of the past traumatic event. (eg in anniversaries)

 

  • Avoiding thinking or talking about the happening in the past (known as psychic numbing) i.e
    • They avoid going places or seeing people that remind them of what happened.
    • They lose interest or stop participating in important activities.
    • They have difficulty experiencing strong emotions.
    • They’re wary of their future (they might not have a proper career or might not get married etc)

 

  • Associations with symptoms of increased arousal that is
    • People might have difficulty falling asleep (insomnia)
    • They might startle easily (exaggerated startle)
    • They will be always be watchful even if there’s no reason to be so (hypervigilance)

 

The person must re-experience at least two of these symptoms to qualify for PTSD.

 

At least one month of persistence of all these which cause extreme agony with impairment in normal social functioning would confirm PTSD.

 

Management is usually done by group therapy, medical treatment of depression and anxiety. Hypnosis has also been used in PTSD but its use is controversial.