What is post-traumatic stress disorder?

What is post-traumatic stress disorder?

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a set of emotional, cognitive and behavioural disturbances that occur as a result of being exposed to a single or multiple traumatic events. Traumatic event(s) are subject to personal appraisal, but in in general are defined as those events that involve death or threatened death, actual or threatened serious injury, and actual or threatened sexual violation. Important characteristics of traumatic events are the feelings of fear, helplessness and overwhelming stress. One can be directly exposed to traumatic event, learn about the traumatic exposure of a close one (family member, close friend), or be continuously directly or indirectly exposed to traumatic events through their work (for example, emergency workers or those who work with traumatized populations). Most of us will experience at least one traumatic event in our life, with the sudden unexpected loss of a loved one being the most common one.

It is characterized by a triade of symptoms:

1) re-experiencing symptoms

2) avoidance symptoms

3) heightened sense of threat

It is a chronic condition which causes social, work- and health related problems.

Traumatic events that include interpersonal violence such as war related trauma and sexual violations are the one’s which are more likely to cause posttraumatic stress symptoms.

Almost 80% of individuals with PTSD have at least one more mental health disorder, most commonly depression and substance abuse.

In most cases PTSD symptoms spontaneously disappear or go into remission five to seven years after the trauma but reappear around the time of anniversary of the event.

One of the basic hallmarks of traumatic experience and its consequences is a destructive and an indelible feeling of loneliness and separation from others.

PTSD can negatively influence individual’s ability to establish and maintain interpersonal relationships.

Having a loved one affected with PTSD can be thus very burdensome for the partner or the family. At the same time, family support is a key role in recovery from PTSD.

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