Anyone who survives a dangerous or life-threatening situation may act differently afterward – fearful, reserved, avoiding things that remind them of trauma. For many people, the feelings subside naturally, but for others, they fester, getting worse every day – sometimes turning into a serious condition called post-traumatic stress disorder. But help is available.
What Is Ptsd?
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) happens in some people who’ve lived through a shocking, frightening, or dangerous incident. It’s human nature to be fearful when that occurs, with the situation triggering split-second changes in your body to defend against or to avoid danger. This “fight-or-flight” response is meant to protect you from harm. We all react to trauma differently, but most people recuperate from early symptoms on their own. Some, however, don’t and later develop PTSD.
Know The Symptoms
Many PTSD symptoms can be treated with ketamine infusion or different kinds of psychotherapy, self-help, or medicine. They’re divided into four categories:
- Recurring, unwanted painful memories of the trauma
- Reliving the traumatic incident as a flashback, like it was happening once again
- Troubling nightmares or dreams about what happened
- Trying to get out of talking or thinking about what happened
- Avoiding activities, people, or places that serve as reminders of the trauma
Negative changes in mood and thinking
- Trouble sustaining close relationships
- Feeling separated from friends and family
- Loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyable
Changes in emotional and physical reactions
- Exhibiting self-destructive behavior, like binge drinking or driving recklessly.
- Problems sleeping
- Difficulty concentrating
Children six and younger may also exhibit symptoms, including re-enacting the trauma or portions of it through playacting and bad dreams, which might or might not include facets of what happened.
Are There Related Conditions?
- Acute stress disorder happens as a reaction to a disturbing event, just like PTSD would, and the symptoms are comparable.
- Adjustment disorder happens in answer to one or more stressful life events.
- Disinhibited social engagement disorder presents in children who have suffered acute social neglect or poverty before turning two years old.
- Reactive attachment disorder happens in children who have experienced harsh deprivation or social neglect during their early years of living.
Is Ptsd A Mood Disorder?
Many doctors and mental health specialists volley this discussion back and forth, but as recently as this past decade, the American Psychiatric Association has reclassified PTSD from an anxiety disorder – a type of mood disorder – to something else.
“In 2013, the American Psychiatric Association revised the PTSD diagnostic criteria in the fifth edition of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5)1. PTSD is included in a new category in DSM-5, Trauma- and Stressor-Related Disorders. All of the conditions included in this classification require exposure to a traumatic or stressful event as a diagnostic criterion.”
This change in classification has been met with considerable resistance in many circles, especially from researchers who published a paper, “PTSD NOT AN ANXIETY DISORDER? DSM COMMITTEE PROPOSAL TURNS BACK THE HANDS OF TIME,” through the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health. As a direct response to the reclassification, the researchers concluded in part, “The rationale for this shift is underdeveloped and negates the critical role of fear and anxiety in PTSD. Four arguments for retaining PTSD as an anxiety disorder were outlined with theoretical and empirical support: fear is a central construct for the development of PTSD; trauma-related fear and avoidance are critical in the treatment of PTSD; evidence supports its classification as an anxiety disorder; and this shift moves the field away from its well-developed knowledge base.”
Regardless, PTSD is still a serious mental health issue for millions of people worldwide, with devastating consequences if left untreated.
How To Diagnose & Treat Ptsd
It involves steps such as:
- A physical exam to determine if there’s an underlying medical cause for your symptoms. It may involve blood tests and other diagnostic procedures.
- A psychiatric assessment utilizing various diagnostic tools, where the goal is to uncover your thoughts, feelings, and behavior and how they relate to your symptoms. You will be asked about your personal and family history of mental illness and may be asked to fill out a wellness questionnaire.
- Comparing your symptoms to criteria in the DSM-5.
If you’re diagnosed with PTSD, your doctor may recommend psychotherapy, medicine, or ketamine infusion to reduce symptoms.
If you suffer from PTSD symptoms, don’t wait until they take over your life before getting help. Many resources are available online, but the first step is talking to a doctor or mental health specialist for a clinical diagnosis. Once diagnosed, you can start treatment which may help reduce symptoms. Contact us today to learn more.