Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

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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.