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-experiencing of the traumatic event in at least one of the following ways :
o Repeated recall or dreams of the event
o Flashbacks i.e. sudden sense of reliving the past experience. (e.g. as observed in some prisoners of wars)
o Intense anxiety with any symbol that would remind them of the past traumatic event. (e.g. anniversaries)
- Avoiding thinking or talking about the happening in the past (known as psychic numbing). The affected individual:
o Avoids going to places or seeing people that reminds him of what happened.
o Loses interest or stops participating in important activities.
o Has difficulty experiencing strong emotions.
o Is wary of his future (he/she might not have a proper career or might not get married etc)
- Association with symptoms of increased arousal. The individual:
o May have difficulty falling asleep (insomnia)
o Might startle easily (exaggerated startle)
o Is always watchful even if there’s no reason to be so (hypervigilance)
The person must re-experience at least 2 of the above mentioned symptoms to qualify for PTSD.
PTSD is confirmed if the individual experiences extreme agony and impaired (normal) social functioning due to persistence of these symptoms for a period of (at least) one month.
Management involves group therapy, medical treatment of depression and anxiety. Hypnosis has also been used in PTSD but its use is controversial.