What You Need To Know About PTSD - Post Traumatic Stress Disorder In 2018

What You Need To Know About PTSD - Post Traumatic Stress Disorder In 2018

What is post-traumatic stress disorder?

Post-traumatic stress disorder, or "PTSD," is a condition that can happen after people see or live through a trauma. A trauma is an intense event that involves serious injury or death, or the chance of serious injury or death. This can include medical events, such as a heart attack, surgery, or treatment in a hospital's intensive care unit ("ICU"). PTSD can cause nightmares, upsetting memories, anxiety, and other symptoms.

Post-traumatic stress disorder is often called PTSD. It can happen to people who have suffered from a severe injury or harm. It may also happen after seeing someone else hurt or die from a painful event. War veterans, rape and abuse victims, those who have been in car or plane crash, and people who have been part of a natural disaster are more likely to get PTSD. Signs may include bad dreams, reliving the event over and over, or feeling very down. You may fear or avoid others or certain places. You may feel angry, worried, or even that things are your fault.

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Sometimes, your signs show up within a short time after the event. For some, signs may not show up for months or years. Doctors will work to treat the signs you have from PTSD.

Not everyone who sees or lives through a trauma will get PTSD. Doctors do not know why some people get PTSD and others don't as PTSD can happen at any age.

What are the symptoms of PTSD?

  1. Reliving the trauma through thoughts and feelings – People can have upsetting memories, nightmares, or flashbacks. Flashbacks are when people "see" or feel the trauma over and over again.
  2. Feeling "numb" and avoiding certain people or places – People avoid thinking about the trauma and avoid people and places that remind them of it. Some people also feel "numb." They might not enjoy activities they used to enjoy or feel part of the world around them.
  3. Having intense feelings, such as anger, fear, or worry – People might frighten or startle easily. Many people have trouble sleeping.

These symptoms can start right after the trauma. If they last longer than 3 days, they could be symptoms of a related condition called acute stress disorder (ASD). If they last longer than a month, they could be symptoms of PTSD. Sometimes, though, symptoms of PTSD start years later. The symptoms often affect a person's job, relationships, or daily life.

Symptoms of PTSD can come and go. They might return when people are under stress or see or hear something that reminds them of the trauma.

How can my doctor or nurse tell if I have PTSD?

Your doctor or nurse should be able to tell if you have it by learning about your symptoms, asking you questions, and doing an exam.

How is PTSD treated?

  1. A type of therapy called cognitive-behavioral therapy, or "CBT" – CBT involves meeting with a therapist to talk about your feelings and thoughts. Your therapist will do certain activities with you that can reduce your symptoms. Different types of therapists can do CBT, including psychologists, psychiatrists, and social workers. You can work one-on-one with a therapist to have CBT. You can also have CBT as part of group therapy.
  2. Medicines – Doctors can use different types of medicines to treat PTSD. The right one for you will depend on your symptoms and the medicine's side effects. People usually start feeling better after they have been on medicine for a few weeks.
  3. Physical activity like sports and exercise may help you feel better. Talk to your doctor about what activity will be good. Think about your signs and choose places for activity that will not raise your stress. Have friends or family join you. Ask your doctor for help if you feel too tired from the drugs.

Hand holding a help sign

When should I get help?

If you are having trouble coping because of your PTSD symptoms, you should do one or both of the following:

  1. See a doctor to start treatment with medicine
  2. See a therapist who is trained in CBT to start therapy

If you are thinking of hurting yourself, or if you feel that life isn't worth living, you should get help right away:

  1. If you see a therapist or doctor for your PTSD, call him or her right away.
  2. If you do not see a therapist or doctor, or if you can't reach him or her right away, call for an ambulance (in the US and Canada, dial 9-1-1) or go to the emergency room.

Physical activity like sports and exercise may help you feel better. Talk to your doctor about what activity will be good. Think about your signs and choose places for activity that will not raise your stress. Have friends or family join you. Ask your doctor for help if you feel too tired from the drugs.

The Teach Back Method helps you understand the information we are giving you. The idea is simple. After talking with the staff, tell them in your own words what you were just told. This helps to make sure the staff has covered each thing clearly.

It also helps to explain things that may have been a bit confusing. Before going home, make sure you are able to do these:

  1. I can tell you about my condition.
  2. I can tell you what may help ease my stress.
  3. I can tell you what I will do if I have trouble coping with my feelings or think of hurting myself or someone else.

This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your healthcare provider. This is only a brief summary of general information. It does NOT include all information about conditions, illnesses, injuries, tests, procedures, treatments, therapies, discharge instructions or lifestyle choices that may apply to you. You must talk with your health care provider for complete information about your health and treatment options. This information should not be used to decide whether or not to accept your health care provider’s advice, instructions or recommendations. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to provide advice that is right for you.

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You must talk with your health care provider for complete information about your health and treatment options. This information should not be used to decide whether or not to accept your health care provider’s advice, instructions or recommendations. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to provide advice that is right for you.

All topics are updated as new evidence becomes available and our peer review process is complete.

Resources

Video Interviews With Medical Experts Covering Mental Health

National Institute Of Mental Health


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