All You Ever Wanted to Know about PTSD But Were Afraid to Ask

A Brief Primer about Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Posttraumatic stress disorder, better known as PTSD, is a mental health problem that occurs when a person is faced with a situation that has a variety of possible outcomes. The feelings often fall into a pattern associated with the meaning of anxiety, including unease, worry, and nervousness.  PTSD is a nervous disorder that varies in its level of intensity and often results in a panic attack or some form of compulsive behavior. One of the first steps to managing the symptoms is to know about PTSD in order to recognize the signs.

Post-traumatic stress is triggered by life-threatening events, including auto accidents, natural disasters, and combat. It may not occur right away. Most people who experience any trauma of this sort are affected for a short time by things like nightmares, edginess, and vivid memories of the incident. It’s common to avoid friends and miss work or school for several weeks while recovering from the experience.  If the symptoms continue after three months, the condition is no longer considered trauma, with PTSD a possible diagnosis.

Friends and relatives may recognize the signs of PTSD first and refer the person for medical analysis to determine its cause and how best to treat the patient. Complex PTSD, for example, is due to lengthy exposure to emotional trauma, such as sexual, emotional, or physical abuse. The victim feels the chance of escape is beyond reach and loses hope.  With help, the victim can recognize the cause of the problem and understand how treatment will resolve the issue.

Common Types of Anxiety Disorders

Psychological disorders include a variety of symptoms that differ in the amount of time they last, how strong they are, and the person’s reaction when an event occurs. You may be familiar with any of the five anxiety disorders, identified by feelings of danger, terror, and panic.

  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
  • Phobias, including Social Anxiety Disorder
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Panic Disorder

Children and PTSD

It’s easier to think about children “bouncing back” from a traumatic situation than it is to accept the more serious PTSD diagnosis. Closing our eyes to its existence, however, won’t end the symptoms of PTSD. Since it is a very treatable condition, it’s helpful to know the typical events and actions that lead to trauma and childhood PTSD.

  1. Accidents are common at home and while traveling. It is traumatic to see or be part of a violent or deadly crash involving a tractor, plane, or car.
  2. Neglect and abuse are two events that are hard to separate, especially in the case of hunger and filth. Sexual and emotional abuse are simpler to place in one category along with bullying. Sometimes the action is hard to identify, but the child perceives the behavior as abusive.
  3. Death is a part of everyday life that affects children and adults. Whether it’s the passing of a beloved pet, good friend, or special neighbor or relative, the child feels lost during this traumatic time.
  4. Violence is an upsetting, frightening act that instills fear. It may be part of a movie, book, or real-life scenario. Gangs, abuse, and physical aggression are a few examples of things that cause PTSD.
  5. Lack of control over situations that affect them causes turmoil and trauma. Parents force their children to:
  • Move to another area or school, leaving friends and familiar surroundings behind.
  • Live with one parent after a divorce or separation while failing to acknowledge or recognize the child’s feelings.

How Age Affects Symptoms

A few symptoms of PTSD are age-related:

  • Trouble sleeping and acting out in response to trauma are typical PTSD symptoms for children six and under.
  • Nightmares, lack of interest in school, and aggressive behavior are signs from kids seven to eleven.
  • Symptoms resemble those of adults for children 12 to 18. PTSD causes them to be depressed. They may run away or use drugs.

Adults exhibit three common posttraumatic stress symptoms, such as arousal (trouble sleeping, excessive anger). Re-experience (flashbacks, distress) and avoidance (avoiding areas that bring up memories of the event, losing interest in life) are the other two. PTSD interferes with life at home and/or work, resulting in substantial distress. It doesn’t indicate weakness. It’s a medical problem with an impressive record of healing that should be treated as soon as it’s identified. To know about PTSD and other anxiety disorders, including how to help a loved one, there are many resources online to raise awareness and knowledge further.

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Latest update: December 10, 2016
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