What is PTSD?

What is PTSD?

If you’re a military veteran who survived a combat situation, it may be normal to experience flashbacks or nightmares afterward. But if you’re an average person – teacher, office worker, truck driver – you, too, can experience a PTSD attack. The symptoms may differ for everyone but can often be treated following a medical diagnosis.

Post-traumatic stress disorder

“Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares, and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event.”

Most people who survive trauma may have short-term problems adapting and coping, but with time and self-care, they usually get better. Worsening symptoms, persisting for months or years, and restricting your daily functioning, may amount to PTSD.

Can PTSD be Passed on?

According to a study with 130 volunteers through the University of California San Diego School of Medicine, researchers “found that PTSD has a strong genetic component similar to other psychiatric disorders. Genetics, they write in Nature Communications, accounts for between five and 20 percent of the variability in PTSD risk following a traumatic event.”
Harvard confirmed as much, suggesting that developing PTSD may be hereditary based, with 30 percent of cases supported by genetics alone.

What’s Caregiver ‘Burnout’?

The United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), widely considered a leading authority in diagnosing and treating PTSD, believes that family members or other caregivers can suffer negative consequences due to direct exposure to someone experiencing symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress disorder. “Caregiver burnout” is when someone feels physically, psychologically, and medically ill because of the overcompensation of family members who may be caring for service members who have PTSD.

When was PTSD First Mentioned?

The term “post-traumatic stress disorder” became a household name almost instantly after being introduced in 1980 in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, third edition (DSM-3) put out by the American Psychiatric Association. This diagnosis is forever linked to the legacy of the war in Vietnam. Still, PTSD-like symptoms were documented much earlier, giving rise to euphemisms like “soldier’s heart,” “shell shock,” and “war neurosis.” However, PTSD can affect anyone, not just veterans.

What is a PTSD Attack?

Extreme fear is a common symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Having sudden, intense fear that grips you could mean you’re experiencing a panic attack. This abrupt fear may happen without the courtesy of a notice or a clear reason. Or a PTSD attack could happen when you’re reminded of your trauma.

During a panic (or PTSD) attack, “you may be afraid of dying or afraid of losing control of yourself. It may seem like things happening around you aren’t real. An attack usually lasts from 5 to 20 minutes but may last even longer, up to a few hours. You have the most anxiety about 10 minutes after the attack starts.”

What Does a PTSD Attack Look Like?

It could manifest itself with any number of physical symptoms including, but not limited, to chest pain, a fast or thumping heartbeat, problems breathing, dizziness, shaking, stomach pain or sickness, sweating, shudders or hot flashes, or the feeling that you’re choking.

Repeated PTSD or panic attacks, or constant worry of when the next one will happen, could be signs you’re developing a panic disorder. A panic disorder is a kind of anxiety disorder. It results in panic attacks, which are rapid feelings of terror even without real danger. This could result in feelings of loss of control.

If you have post-traumatic stress disorder with PTSD attacks, you may be able to cope with the symptoms on your own or seek professional care and ask about the benefits of ketamine.

Diagnosis and Treatment

According to the Mayo Clinic, your healthcare provider will probably:

  • Perform a medical exam to check for health problems that may be triggering your symptoms
  • Do a psychological assessment with a discussion of your symptoms and signs and the incident or circumstances that resulted in them happening
  • Compare your symptoms to the criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), distributed by the American Psychiatric Association
  • In a positive diagnosis, your healthcare provider may recommend one or more kinds of treatment. This could include ketamine infusion, self-help, individual or group therapy, or certain medicines.

Final Thoughts

By some estimates, nearly 10 percent of U.S. adults experience PTSD at some point in their lives. If it’s already happened to you, don’t wait to seek professional care before the symptoms – and your life – spiral out of control. Contact us today to learn more about our PTSD treatment options in Colorado Springs.

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