If you have gone through a traumatic experience, it is normal to feel lots of emotions, such as distress, fear, helplessness, guilt, shame or anger. You may start to feel better after days or weeks, but sometimes, these feelings don’t go away. If symptoms persist for more than a month, please seek professional help.
Who can have PTSD?
- Anyone who has undergone or has witnessed or has been exposed to a life-threatening situation
- Survivors of violent acts, such as domestic violence, rape, sexual, physical and/or verbal abuse or physical attacks
- Survivors of unexpected dangerous events, such as a car accident, natural disaster, or terrorist attack
- Combat veterans or civilians exposed to war
- People who have learned of or experienced an unexpected and sudden death of a friend or relative
- Emergency responders who help victims during traumatic events
- Children who are neglected and/or abused (physically, sexually or verbally).
Symptoms of PTSD
For many people, symptoms begin almost right after the trauma happens. For others, the symptoms may not begin or may not become a problem until years later. Symptoms of PTSD may include:
- Repeatedly thinking about the trauma
- Inability to control troubling memories
- Nightmares or flashbacks about the trauma or becoming upset when something triggers off a memory
- Being constantly alert or on guard.
- Be easily startled or angered, irritable or anxious and preoccupied with staying safe.
- Having trouble concentrating
- Difficulty with sleeping
- Feel emotionally numb, detached from friends and family, and lose interest in activities.
PTSD can be treated with success. Although traumatic memories won’t go away, treatment with medications and/or psychotherapy can help manage response to these memories and the feelings they evoke.
Medication- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs are used to treat symptoms of PTSD, as they help lower anxiety and depression and help manage other symptoms. Sedatives can also help with sleep problems. Anti-anxiety medicine may also help.
Counseling/Psychotherapy – There are different types of psychotherapy (please see above) which can support you to face the trauma you went through, although it may be painful to do so. It can help you put it behind you. Other types of therapies focus on helping you to cope with your trauma symptoms, without deep work that brings up the initial trauma. Your psychotherapist and you will decide collaboratively what will work best for you.
Support groups – This form of therapy, led by a mental health professional, involving groups of survivors, can be a helpful step in recovery. It helps resolve entangled feelings, gain confidence in coping with troublesome memories, and find comfort in knowing there are others with similar problems.