PTSD: The symptoms
Most people who are exposed to a traumatic, stressful event experience some of the symptoms of PTSD
in the days and weeks following exposure, but the symptoms generally decrease over time and eventually disappear. However, about 8% of men and 20% of women go on to develop PTSD, and roughly 30% of these individuals develop a chronic form that persists throughout their lifetimes.
Three clusters of symptoms are associated with PTSD:
Re-experiencing of the traumatic event:
* Recurring nightmares
* Intrusive daydreams or flashbacks
* Dissociative experiences [is there a less technical term for this?]
* Intensification of symptoms on exposure to reminders of the event
Avoidance or numbing:
* Efforts to avoid thoughts, feelings, activities, or situations associated with the trauma
* Feelings of detachment or alienation
* Inability to have loving feelings
* Exaggerated startle response
* Insomnia and other sleep disturbances
* Irritability or outbursts of anger
* Physiological reactions to exposure to reminders of the event
PTSD often occurs in conjunction with related disorders and symptoms , including:
* Depression, and feelings of guilt and hopelessness
* Substance abuse
* Disillusionment with authority
* Problems of memory and cognition
PTSD often results in impairment of the person’s ability to function in social or family situations , including
* Occupational instability
* Marital problems and divorces
* Discord with family and friends
* Difficulties in parenting
The course of chronic PTSD usually involves periods of symptom increase followed by remission or decrease, although for some individuals symptoms may be unremitting and severe.
How is PTSD assessed and treated?
In recent years a great deal of research has been aimed at development and testing of reliable assessment tools. It is generally thought that the best way to diagnose PTSD – or any psychiatric disorder, for that matter – is to combine findings from structured interviews and questionnaires with
physiological assessments. PTSD is treated by a variety of forms of psychotherapy and drug therapy. There is no definitive treatment, and no cure, but some treatments appear to be quite promising and research into improved treatments is taking place constantly.
Where to get help?:
Check out our resources pages to find help appropriate for you.