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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Suffered After an Accidental Injury--Recognizing the Signs

PTSD (or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) is identified as a disorder that forms in persons who experience a traumatic event. There are many different symptoms one can experience when suffering from PTSD and they can be triggered by many forms of stimuli.  Some of our clients suffer from the disorder after a fairly significant auto or truck crash or other accidental injury, so we have done our best to learn about the disorder so that we can understand our clients suffering from PTSD.  Below is some general information concerning the disorder, according to the National Institute of Mental Health and the Mayo Clinic. 

The course of the illness varies. There are two identifiable types of PTSD: acute and chronic. A person can develop either, and the only way to know which one a person is suffering from is to see how long they are affected by PTSD. A person can be treated for PTSD, and some are fully treated within 6 months. Others may experience chronic PTSD. The onset for symptoms of PTSD can be anywhere from very soon after the trauma, to three months to even years after the incident.  

We are about to go in depth with the symptoms one experiences when they are post traumatic. This will help you better identify the symptoms and understand those that suffer with PTSD.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, an adult can be diagnosed with PTSD if they experienced the following in the span of one month.

-          At least one re-experiencing symptom

-          At least one avoidance symptom

-          At least two arousal or reactivity symptoms

-          At least two cognition or mood symptoms

RE-EXPERIENCING SYMPTOMS

              A “re-experiencing symptom” is categorized as a symptom that reverts the affected back to the feelings they may have experienced at the time of the trauma. These symptoms often include bad dreams, frightening thoughts and flashbacks. Flashbacks can be very tough on the afflicted, as they are basically reliving their traumatic event biologically and/or emotionally.

AVOIDANCE SYMPTOMS

              When a person refrains from places, events, or objects that may remind them of their trauma, they are experiencing avoidance symptoms.  They’ll also tend to avoid thoughts and feelings about the event.

AROUSAL AND REACTIVITY SYMPTOMS

              Arousal and reactivity symptoms are constant, as in they are not necessarily triggered by the traumatic event. Startling easily, anger issues, bad concentration, and not being able to sleep are all symptoms that can be categorized as such. They impede one’s ability to live a normal, everyday life.

COGNITION AND MOOD SYMPTOMS

              People can have difficulty remembering key details about the event if they’re suffering from PTSD. Their mood may take a deep plunge as well, resulting in negative thoughts about oneself or feelings of guilt. They may lose interest in things they once found fun.

 

All of these symptoms can show up in someone with PTSD. Sometimes, they go away after a few weeks, which is Acute Stress Disorder (ASD). If it lasts longer, then they likely have PTSD.

There are certain variables that make a person more or less susceptible to developing PTSD. These are called risk factors. Risk factors include:

  • Experiencing intense or long-lasting trauma

  • Having experienced other trauma earlier in life, such as childhood abuse

  • Having a job that increases your risk of being exposed to traumatic events, such as military personnel and first responders

  • Having other mental health problems, such as anxiety or depression

  • Having problems with substance misuse, such as excess drinking or drug use

  • Lacking a good support system of family and friends

  • Having blood relatives with mental health problems, including anxiety or depression 

On the other hand, there are other variables that could possibly reduce your risk to PTSD. These are called resilience factors and some include:

·       Attending a support group aimed at trauma survivors.

·       Reaching out to friends and family.

·       Learning to feel good about one’s own actions.

·       Having a positive coping strategy.

Studies have been done and countless hours of research have gone into identifying the things that help or hurt someone with PTSD. The goal is to be able to predict if someone is susceptible to PTSD, but for now, there are two prevalent ways to treat the post traumatic: medication and psychotherapy.

Doctors are still trying to find the right medication to fight PTSD. For now, doctors are prescribing antidepressants, but antidepressants can’t cover every symptom that PTSD can present. Currently, drugs are being tested that can treat more than what antidepressants can do. A few drugs are showing promise, but the FDA has yet to approve them. In time, doctors and patients will determine what the best course of medication is to combat PTSD.

Psychotherapy is the other leading treatment for PTSD, which can be done in tandem with medication.  The intention in talk therapy is to identify and understand a person’s fears so that they may overcome them. Focused psychotherapies are shown to work best, like cognitive behavioral therapies (CBT).

One CBT, “exposure therapy”, is a type of talk therapy that is aimed at facing and controlling one’s fears. A person may visit the site of a past traumatic event, write about it, etc. to expose themselves to the feelings of fear and trauma that they once experienced, with the hope that the exposure makes them stronger and more able to face their fears.

Psychotherapy does provide a myriad of benefits for those suffering from PTSD. If done well, psychotherapy can help one handle feelings of anger or fear, help one identify when they are feeling negatively, and change how a person reacts to their PTSD symptoms.

PTSD can be daunting for those who suffer from it and those around them. If you or anyone you know exhibits symptoms of PTSD, reach out. A person can’t treat themselves alone, and no one should have to handle this by themselves.

The information in this blog was taken from the following sources.  Please visit their sites for more information.

Sources:

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd/index.shtml

 

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/post-traumatic-stress-disorder/home/ovc-20308548

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