Some of us will or have experienced some kind of trauma in our lifetime. Sometimes, we are able to manage and continue with our lives with no long-term effects.
For others, those traumatic events remain and these events continue living in the back of our minds for the longest time, causing aftermath symptoms like nightmares, flashbacks, and intrusive thoughts that messes with our every day life journey.
What has just been described is called post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, and it is not by any means a weakness so please don’t think that having PTSD is something wrong or something that you can just forget about it and move on with your life; rather, PTSD is a treatable glitch of some biological mechanisms that allow us to cope with the trauma that we have experienced.
In order to better understand PTSD, firstly we need to see how the brain performs a broad range of circumstances and events, those can include a loved one’s death, domestic violence, injury or illness, abuse, rape, war, car accidents, witnessing violence. and natural disasters.
The events mentioned above are not limited to the kind of trauma that PTSD endures but those circumstances – whatever they may be, they’re all valid – can create feelings of isolation, fear and frustration, which often triggers the “fight-flight-freeze” alarm. When this alarm starts buzzing it begins to work in conjunction with “transmit commands” which sends triggers to the parasympathetic nervous system; that is also known as the HPA axis.
That is the internal connection that interacts with the adrenal glands and internal organs to monitor and control cardiac functions, digestion, and breathing. These cues begin a chemical sequence in which several different stress hormones flood the body and cause variations in different types of hormones that are set to prepare the body for defense. Our cardiac rate becomes faster, breathing is also fastening and the muscles tense whenever all of these triggers start sending out messages.
Most of the time, these experiences go away within a few days to two weeks as their hormone levels begin to normalize and gets under control. Regardless, there is still a small amount of those people who experience trauma whose symptoms can last a lifetime; ultimately, it can potentially have persistent problems and longer effects on their mental stability. However, one theory is that the cortisol stress hormone may activate the “fight-flight-freeze” reaction and thus reduce the overall brain function to cause a series of adverse symptoms continually. We do not fully comprehend what is goes on inside our brain.
These symptoms can be categorized into four different categories: intrusive thoughts, like dreams and flashbacks, avoiding reminders of the trauma, negative thoughts and feelings, like fear, helplessness, anger, and guilt, and it can also “trigger” symptoms like difficulty sleeping and trouble concentrating. Every person experiences trauma in a different way even if two people experience the same traumatic experience, not all of them will have the same reaction or symptoms as the other person.
A big issue to cope with PTSD is the responsiveness to the triggers, physical and emotional stimuli associated with the trauma that you have been through. It can be daily sensations, which may not be dangerous intrinsically but may be able to trigger physical and emotional alterations.
PTSD will most probably be diagnosed if the problem lasts more than a month. Genetics, overcoming stress, and more medical conditions such as preexisting psychiatric disorders or an insufficient support system, probably contribute to determinations about who is going to suffer from PTSD. But the reason remains a mystery of medicine and science.
Trying to prevent these, sometimes unexpected triggers can result in isolation. Isolation might lead the individual to feel invalid, overlooked, or misunderstood, as if the rest of the world keeps living their lives and they’re left in the dark.
The first step to properly diagnose PTSD is an evaluation with a mental health professional who can help and guide you on the road that provides many available resources that will surely help the individual manage their PTSD. Psychotherapy is often effective for PTSD, educating patients to comprehend the triggers more effectively is a huge step towards this journey. Some medicines can make symptoms more bearable, and also emotional support, self-care, and exercising regularly can potentially help as well.
What if you find PTSD signs in a family member or friend? Understanding, sympathy, and support are important in the process of healing and recovery. Make sure they know that you believe them and that you do not blame them for their responses. Encouraged them to seek treatment if they are open to it. If they’re not ready for that step of having professional help from a mental health specialist then try to be there when they need that helping hand. PTSD was known to be called the “hidden wound” since it comes without any external physical alterations. Therefore, it does not have to become a silent experience, even if it is an unseen disorder.