Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome

Overview of post-traumatic stress disorder

Most people go through a lot of difficulties due to traumatic events that happened to them, which has made it difficult or stressful for them to live a normal life because of such events.

They usually find it hard sleeping at night or getting focused on a job or something else without them having flashbacks or nightmares about those past events, and this tends to last for a long time.

Most people who go through this tend to have Post-traumatic stress syndrome.

Post-traumatic stress disorder has evolved with time. In the past, it was called different names.

It was formally known as shell shock in WW1, combat fatigue in WW2, psychological disorder, etc.

It can happen to anyone at any time regardless of age, nationality, or gender, but it has shown to occur more in women than men.

People experiencing PTSD may have mood swings, anger, fear, or sadness, making them detached from other people and always wanting to be by themselves.

They may avoid situations or even places that remind them of the past events and also tend to have strong negative reactions or hypersensitivity to their surroundings, including an accidental touch, whispers, loud noise, or dark places depending on the terrifying past event.

What is Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome

Post-traumatic stress syndrome, also known as Post-traumatic stress disorder or generally called PTSD is a psychological/mental condition that is caused by a shocking, dangerous, or terrifying event that happened directly to a person or passively.

This event can either be a severe accident, gruesome crime, rape, assault, bomb blast, toxic relationships, and even natural disasters.

It may have happened to the person directly, or the person might have been a witness to a terrific experience.

Patients usually have no control over such events leading to nightmares, flashbacks, anxieties, loss of concentration, disorientation, stare of confusion, etc.

Almost everyone will experience after trauma reactions, but some recover from such experience almost immediately while others continue to experience symptoms and may be diagnosed with PTSD.

Not everyone diagnosed with PTSD has been through scary events, some experiences like toxic relationships, death of a loved one, bad breakups, or indirect experience can also cause PTSD.

It is usually diagnosed by a psychiatrist or a psychologist.

Causes of PTSD

As earlier stated, Post-traumatic stress disorder is caused by traumatic events experienced by different persons, and these events many be dangerous or life-threatening.

The causes may include but not limited to:

  • experiencing a gruesome death
  • The unexpected death of a loved one
  • Life-threatening health issues
  • Involvement in a deadly car accident
  • Surviving a plane crash
  • Sexually assaulted or raped
  • Terrorist attack
  • Natural disaster
  • Being kidnapped
  • Surviving war or extreme violence
  • And even hearing details or seeing pictures of a traumatic event.

No matter the cause of PTSD, it is never a good thing and usually tends to affect the person’s ability to function and behave normally.

It is an event in which you fear for your life.

Symptoms of PTSD or related PTSD symptoms

There are no fixed Symptoms of PTSD as it varies from person to person. The symptoms may include persistent anger, constant fear, hypersensitivity, lack of interest in most physical and social activities, detachment from other people, mood swings, insomnia, anxiety, disorientation, guilt, shame, unusual behavior, restlessness and lack of happiness.

Symptoms of PTSD must last for a while before it is diagnosed as PTSD. The course of this illness varies, and it ranges from months to years after the incident.

Also, the recovery rate varies from different people. Some might get better after a while; others might become worse.

These symptoms can lead to significant challenges and can cause a negative influence on relationships, attitude, work, and can even interfere with your daily routine.

Also, Post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms can be classified into four groups.

  • Negative moods and thoughts such as no positive feeling, pessimistic attitude, memory loss, especially about the traumatic events, detachment from loved ones, loss of interest in daily activities, suicidal thoughts, and emotional numbness.
  • Avoidance such as avoiding people, words, pictures, or places that remind you of the past traumatic experience.
  • Intrusive memories such as having flashbacks and reliving the traumatic moment as if it’s happening again, nightmares and bad dreams about the past traumatic events. Recurrent distressing recollections of the event, terrible emotional distress, or adverse reaction to situations that trigger the memory of the event. 
  • Change in emotions and physical reactions to irrelevant things like loud noises, dark places, etc. traumatic experiences can change a person’s emotions and attitude. It also may lead to hypersensitivity in some individuals, extreme consciousness of the environment, and unexplained mood swings.

Diagnosing post-traumatic stress disorder

You must experience the following for at least a month to be diagnosed with PTSD:

  • Avoidance symptoms
  • Reactivity and arousal symptoms
  • Reoccurring symptoms such as nightmares, flashbacks, anxiety, reliving the traumatic events, horrendous thoughts, and imaginations, or even physical problems like heart palpitations and sweating. Also, words, situations, or even people that are a reminder of such events can trigger these reoccurring symptoms.


Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can happen to just anybody regardless of age, gender, culture, etc.

this illness is usually caused by a traumatic incident either experienced first hand or indirectly as a witness. It can also be caused by repeated exposure to a particular case.

PTSD patients may relive past traumatic experiences through flashbacks, negative imagination, nightmares leading to persistent withdrawal from people, or emotional distress.

For a person to be diagnosed with PTSD, they’ll have to experience symptoms that last for a long time at least a month. These symptoms can last for months or years after the incident.

Most people start experiencing symptoms within a few weeks after the incident. These symptoms have interfered with their daily lives and cause distress on them.

Sometimes, a full diagnosis is made six months after experiencing a terrifying moment.  In some cases, PTSD could be related to conditions such as memory loss, depression, use of narcotics, anxiety, physical and other mental or psychological related problems. The symptoms are a lot and can vary for different people.

PTSD is manageable, and recovery from PTSD is possible, but it could take a long time or even become worsened.

The doctor or mental health specialist will do a psychological evaluation and a thorough subjective assessment of you, including asking about the details of such events, family history, history, and current symptoms the patients are experiencing.

There are different types of treatment for PTSD, which your therapist can prescribe.  Also, a physical examination may be carried out to rule out other conditions that might be similar.

There’s no time range for a patient to recover from PTSD fully; it depends on the person and varies among individuals. The most common treatment is psychotherapy, but there are other medications like antidepressants for PTSD that can induce the recovery rate.

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