Understanding Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Understanding Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

While nearly every person in the world experiences trauma, sometimes the effects are farther-reaching than the original trauma itself. When a shocking or traumatic event causes certain symptoms, it’s possible that a person is living with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. 

PTSD is a relatively common mental health issue, affecting US women at a rate of around 8% and US men at a rate of around 4%. Amir Ahuja, MD, a board-certified psychiatrist and Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, has treated many patients living with PTSD, and provides the necessary therapies to start your healing process. 

How do I recognize PTSD?

PTSD occurs when a person experiences a traumatic event, or a series of traumatic events, no matter how long the events last. While most people are able to recover from the stress of a traumatic event, this isn’t the case for everyone. 

According to the Department for Veteran’s Affairs, the two types of trauma that are most likely to cause PTSD are combat trauma and sexual assault, though natural disasters, other types of assault, and accidents can cause long-term harm to your mental health. Symptoms of this condition can appear within a month of the event, and potentially go on for years. When the symptoms cause problems in your daily life, you may have PTSD. Typical PTSD symptoms include: 

Mood swings

PTSD can affect your interpersonal relationships, causing a person to distance themselves from family and friends. Memory problems, hopelessness, and emotional numbness are also common symptoms of PTSD. 

Physical and emotional reactions

People living with PTSD may be easily startled, or always on their guard, and engage in self-destructive behavior like drinking or taking drugs. PTSD can cause a person to have trouble sleeping or focusing, and irritable, aggressive behavior. This condition often causes deep feelings of guilt, or shame as well. 

Avoiding places or thoughts

Avoidance is a common symptom of PTSD, whether a person is avoiding thoughts or places that trigger traumatic memories. This is an understandable reaction, but may not always work as a coping strategy. 

Intrusive memories  

Intense, intrusive memories are probably the most-recognized symptom of PTSD, whether the thoughts are flashbacks, recurrent memories, or nightmares about the event. These memories can be accompanied by severe emotional distress, or even a physical reaction, like shuddering or crying out. 

PTSD alone is a difficult condition to live with, but it can lead to other mental health issues, particularly depression and anxiety. People living with PTSD are prone to eating disorders, using drugs or alcohol to self-medicate, and suicidal thoughts. In the US, Indigenous people, Black people, and people from Latin America are more likely than non-Hispanic whites to experience PTSD. LGBT+ people also have a higher-than-average incidence of PTSD. 

How does someone heal from PTSD?

Healing from PTSD is usually an ongoing process that requires several different types of therapies. The symptoms of PTSD are unlikely to completely go away, but scheduling an appointment with Dr. Ahuja is a great first step to starting life-changing treatment. If you need help healing from trauma, call us today at 310-426-8938, or book an appointment online.

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