PTSD: Bringing an often hidden problem into the open
IN THIS edition, I felt that it was important to talk about a topic that can sometimes be swept under the carpet, but I believe it's important to bring it out into the open and increase its awareness.
Post-traumatic stress disorder is a long lasting and sometimes delayed anxiety disorder caused by a traumatic event (such as physical or sexual assault, war or torture, or a serious accident).
Most people who are exposed to a very disturbing or distressing event have strong feelings and reactions, such as fear, sadness, guilt, or grief in the first days and weeks after the event.
With the support of family and friends, most people recover in a few weeks. But some people develop the longer lasting condition PTSD, and need professional help.
When these feelings are intensely distressing and go on for more than four weeks, however, it is important to ask for help from a doctor or other health professional, as they may be symptoms of a more persistent condition such as PTSD.
About 25% of people who are exposed to traumatic events develop PTSD.
Common signs and symptoms:
- Re-living the traumatic event through unwanted and repeated memories. This leads to strong emotional or physical reactions such as sweating and a fast heartbeat.
- Being very wound up which may lead to sleeping problems and feeling irritable.
- Avoiding reminders of the event/s.
- Having a loss of interest in daily life; feeling separated from family and friends.
Someone who has experienced a traumatic event may sometimes feel that they have 'got over' it, until they are confronted with a reminder that triggers symptoms again.
Those affected may also develop other anxiety disorders (such as phobias or social anxiety), depression, or problems with alcohol and drug use.
The aim of treatment is to relieve symptoms, improve family and social life, and get stable employment.
This can be done by joining support groups, getting support from family members, and getting counselling.
It is also very important to seek professional advice, such as paying a visit to your doctor who will be able to point you in the right direction and prescribe the appropriate treatment when needed.
Remember, asking for help is an important aspect of PTSD.
If you ever need any advice on medication, please do not hesitate in visiting us at one of our Friendlies stores to have a chat to one of our dedicated pharmacists.