16 Minutes

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Did you know approximately 8 out of 100 people experience PTSD at least once in their life, according to the National Center for PTSD? Being a PTSD patient or living with someone who has a mental illness is not easy. There are challenges that you have to face. And there is a risk of it being fatal if you don’t take treatment at the right time. What is PTSD? What are the consequences of PTSD? Are there any risk factors? What are the causes, signs, and symptoms of PTSD?

Note: If you think you have PTSD or want to learn everything about PTSD, read on!

Picture of a woman watching the sunset.

PTSD is an abbreviation for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. As the name suggests, it’s a trauma disorder that develops after a person experiences a traumatic event with such intensity that it disturbs the normal chemical balance in the brain and entices fear and anger qualities.

PTSD age-range

PTSD is a mental trauma-related disorder that is likely to go unnoticed because of its broad and vague symptoms. However, PTSD has been diagnosed in all ages from children to adults, which makes it one of the common trauma disorders.

It must be mentioned, however, that the following people may be more prone to develop PTSD:

  • Having an abusive childhood history
  • Living with a PTSD diagnosed Patient
  • Having closed one suffer through traumatic events
  • Having witnessed a PTSD suicidal case
  • Female Gender

When any person finds themselves in a traumatic situation, by reflex the mind starts a mechanism called Flight and Fright response which produces physical symptoms. So, a person suffering from PTSD may be continually in such a state. And whenever he or she is reminded of the trauma he/she went through, the PTSD symptoms might get evident. And this is referred to as a PTSD attack.

What is the checklist of PTSD symptoms?

Following are the reported signs and symptoms of PTSD. And some of these symptoms may overlap with other symptoms of anxiety.

  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • Dizziness
  • Stomach Aches
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Chest tightness
  • Disturbing Flashbacks
  • Backaches
  • Avoidance
  • Intrusion
  • Insomnia
  • PTSD flashbacks
  • Panic attacks

If you or somebody close to you checks off most of these symptoms, chances are they might be suffering from a PTSD attack and be an undiagnosed case of PTSD!

Types of Traumas

Note: Make sure to get checked and not take these symptoms lightly.

PTSD Symptoms in Children

Like many other disorders, PTSD syndrome tends to manifest itself differently in children as compared to adults. Therefore, it is important to notice the following symptoms as PTSD disorder in children might get overlooked.

Following are the symptoms to look out for:

  • Clingy Behaviour
  • Avoidance
  • Agitation or Restlessness
  • Loss of focus
  • Aggressiveness
  • Nervousness
  • Constant sadness
  • Being scared all the time

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Symptoms in Women

According to the surveys held all around the world, women are more prone to develop PTSD as compared to men. Being differently psychologically wired than men, women with PTSD tend to behave differently and may go undiagnosed.

Mental Breakdown Causes and Treatment

Some of the following symptoms might be prominent in such women:

  • Severe Mood Swings
  • Social Withdrawal
  • Desensitization
  • Sudden Anger Outbursts
  • Insomnia
  • Suicidal Thoughts

Traumatic Stress Symptoms in Men

Even though PTSD is less common in the male gender, this does not mean they don’t experience PTSD at all.

Men suffering from PTSD may exhibit the following signs and symptoms that may go unnoticed:

  • Mood Irritability
  • Changes in Libido
  • Constant low mood
  • Aggressive Reactions
  • Excess Alcohol Intake

Symptoms of Childhood Trauma in Adults

Children who have suffered repeated and continuous abuse or assaults are more likely to develop ‘Complex PTSD’. Complex or c-PTSD is different from normal PTSD, which arises due to a single traumatic event.

PTSD Vs CPTSD | Differences in Symptoms and Diagnosis

Such adults will mostly present with the symptoms listed below:

  • Severe alcoholism or other eating disorders
  • Insomnia, Nightmares, Flashbacks
  • Peaking sexual arousal (Hyper Arousal) or no arousal at all.
  • Aggressive and Irritable Personalities
  • Cynical and Extreme self-critics
  • Continuous Self Doubt and self-harm
  • Failed Relationships
  • Extreme Trust Issues
  • Fragmented childhood memories

PTSD can be classified based on the kind of traumatic incident that induced PTSD. Considering this, the following are the commonest causes of PTSD:

  • Physical Trauma
  • Emotional Trauma
  • Mental Trauma
  • Sexual Trauma

Note: It is essential to identify exactly the kind of PTSD a patient has before the treatment because each subtype requires a different approach in PTSD counseling.

Moreover, even these types of PTSD have further subtypes. Let’s look at the subtypes a bit closer to get a better idea:

Physical Trauma

It includes close to death-like experiences. For instance, RTAs, Rough airplane landings, Fire Breakouts, Disability, etc.

Emotional Trauma

All the PTSD patients with an extensive abusive history are sub-categorized under this type. For example, constant yelling, name-calling, emotional abuse, mental trauma.

Sexual Trauma

This type of PTSD includes all those patients who have a sexually abusive past or traumatic sexual history. For instance, that of rape, physical harassment, or assault.

PTSD is a life-changing mental trauma-related disorder that has a wide range of effects on your mind, body, and lifestyle. In the following paragraphs, we will discuss how PTSD affects your physical and mental health.

Long Term Effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Physical and Physiological health both are essential to the healthy survival of an individual. Moreover, numerous studies have shown that disruptive physiological conditions lead to the physical functioning of the body. In PTSD syndrome, the individual is in a continuous state of fear, anger, or danger. Hence, the body is in constant hyper-alertness. According to the studies conducted, the long-term effects of PTSD highly coincide with severe comorbidity. And at times, PTSD consequences may prove fatal.

A few of them may be:

  • Obesity/Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Hyperlipidemia
  • Cardiovascular Problems
  • Psychosomatic Syndromes
  • Neuromuscular and Connective Tissue Disorders

PTSD and Anger

One of the common presentations of patients suffering from PTSD is the increased hostility in their personalities.

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Moreover, the patient during a PTSD attack may exhibit extreme violence which may be verbal or physical. The aggressive trait in PTSD patients is not age-limited. It has come across as a dominant symptom among all PTSD patients irrespective of their ages.

Mental Illness Caused by Trauma

Like any other mental disorder, PTSD is a trauma-related mental disorder that takes a toll on your mental health. Furthermore, changes in personalities, new complexes, and fears may be integrated into you as a consequence of this mental trauma disorder. Plus, PTSD may also make way for other mental disorders such as; depression, Anxiety, Chronic Pain, or Phobias. But these changes are not for a lifetime. You have to remind yourself that these fears and thoughts are only a phase and not truly you.

Note: You have to believe that with the right kind of treatment plan and with the help of a PTSD specialist or any PTSD counselor you will be back to yourself in no time!

Short term effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

It is best to get diagnosed if you’re suffering from PTSD as soon as possible because the longer your mind-body goes through its symptoms, the deeper it takes a toll on your physical and mental health. Even though the short-term effects of PTSD are not as profound as long-term effects, they still might leave scars for a lifetime in terms of personality or thinking capabilities.

The Short Term Effects of PTSD may include:

  • Constant Confusion
  • Zero willpower or decision-making ability
  • Low Self-esteem
  • Pessimistic Approach
  • Constant Low Mood
  • Changes in the sleep cycle
  • Bowel Disturbances
  • Continuous Muscle Pain

Note: PTSD memory loss and difficulty in learning and focusing on new tasks is another common yet least-talked side effect of post-trauma stress.

Typically, the reactions to any traumatic event vary from person to person. But generally, there are five reactions noted while considering PTSD.

These five stages or levels of PTSD are listed below:

  • Normal Stress Response
  • Acute Stress Disorder
  • Uncomplicated PTSD
  • Comorbid PTSD
  • Complex PTSD

Patients who have been diagnosed with PTSD present with significant sleep cycle changes and complain of not being able to sleep properly or maintain a good night’s sleep.

This is because PTSD predominantly affects the regular sleep cycle. The following sleep disorders are highly prevalent:

  • Insomnia
  • Nightmares
  • Periodic Limb Movement
  • Sleep Disordered Breathing
  • Rapid Eye Movement Sleep

Amongst the other sleep disorders associated with PTSD, the frequency and severity of PTSD nightmares stand significant. Moreover, the distinguishing factor of PTSD nightmares from the regular nightmares is continuous and prolong re-enactment of the traumatic event in their sleep, over and over again. And they usually arise during REM sleep when a person may experience vivid dreams.

Besides, these nightmares act as a stimulus to the body to be in a flight or fight response yet again producing the emergency hormones along with adrenaline. So, it’s quite normal if you find yourself in sweats or fear when you wake up. Moreover, these nightmares cause severe distress to the mind and the musculature of the body. Therefore, patients diagnosed with PTSD may experience chronic pain and symptoms of anxiety.

How to deal with PTSD nightmares?

Experiencing PTSD nightmares itself is a nightmare. But luckily, various coping mechanisms and therapies have been introduced which minimize the symptoms to an unbelievable extent! Usually, when the cause of your nightmares is treated, these PTSD flashbacks cease to exist. However, if they persist, the following are therapies that work to eradicate the frequency and intensity of PTSD nightmares:

  • Cognitive Processing Therapy ( CPT )
  • Prolonged Exposure ( PE )
  • Image Rehearsal Therapy ( IRT )
  • Lucid Dreaming

Note: These therapies work on concepts like visual imagery and nightmare rescripting.

In addition to therapies, there are some prescribed PTSD nightmare medications like Prazosin which may reduce the PTSD nightmare symptoms.

Note: Its Adverse effects may include Headaches, Increased Blood Pressure

Furthermore, there are some devices advised as well to reduce nightmares such as; Continuous Positive airway pressure (CPAP). However, if a person tends to be claustrophobic they are recommended to use Mandibular Advancement Device.

Note: It is to be mentioned that alongside taking professional help, self-help like sleep hygiene holds great importance. It involves making a conscious effort to regulate your sleep cycles.

Other than regulating sleeping hours, you should make yourself comfy before bedtime and reassure yourself that everything is going to get better.

How to treat PTSD?

Note: Someone with a history of PTSD might still get PTSD flashbacks even after taking therapies and help from PTSD specialists and PTSD counselors.

This is because PTSD does not have any cure. And PTSD counseling can only minimize the severity of the symptoms of PTSD, not cure it. However, there are designed therapies that help treat post-traumatic stress to a certain extent.

Let’s highlight these PTSD treatment methods one by one:


The most common and earliest method of treating PTSD is talk therapy. In fact, psychotherapy is not only confined to treat PTSD symptoms, it is the most effective way to treat other trauma disorders and mental health problems. In psychotherapy, your therapist will first ask questions regarding your trauma, which might get uncomfortable and may result in PTSD anger outbursts.

However, to treat your condition, your counselor first has to get into your shoes.

And that will be the main goal of your PTSD counselor; to understand you better and build a connection before teaming up with you to treat PTSD. Depending on your condition, your therapist will give you a treatment plan that may consist of any of the following types of PTSD therapies.

Cognitive Behavior Therapy

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder cognitive behavioral therapy helps you improve your behavior and works on the way you react to PTSD triggers. CBT is basically a coping therapy that helps you come up with different ways to live with PTSD nightmares and flashbacks.

It helps you to gradually move on and take control of your emotions. Moreover, it helps PTSD patients to build stronger self-esteem, turning their can’t into cans.  Furthermore, CBT usually includes multiple sessions in a 12-week course. However, your specialist might call you for follow-ups to monitor your mental health and look for any PTSD symptoms later in life.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

According to WHO, this therapy focuses on dealing with negative beliefs and thoughts due to traumatic memories while reprocessing the incident. Some experts include EMDR with exposure therapy for PTSD and some PTSD specialists combine the two.

It mainly deals with the patient re-entering or reprocessing the time of traumatic incident via certain gestures or specialized programs; for instance, creating a virtual reality.  This means you won’t have to speak about your trauma, rather you will have to re-play the traumatic incident.

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Your therapist will provide you with a stimulus, like hand-tapping, flashlight, or a sound. What you have to do is to watch, listen, and concentrate on your therapist’s activity and reprocess the cause of your post-traumatic stress disorder.

Present Centered Therapy

Unlike other therapies that might be disturbing for PTSD patients as they include recalling stressful events, this is a non-trauma-focused therapy. As the name suggests, it deals with the effects of PTSD on current life and struggles rather than what happened in the past. All these therapies have proven very effective. However, sometimes you might need medications along with psychotherapies to treat PTSD.

PTSD attacks and other psychological symptoms of this trauma disorder not only need psychotherapy.

Certain medications are used for mental illnesses caused by trauma. These include:

  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)
  • Antidepressants
  • Antipsychotics
  • Benzodiazepines 

However, there are only two specific medicines for PTSD approved by FDA, these are:

  • Paroxetine
  • Sertraline

These two drugs come under the class of Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs). As the name implies, these PTSD medications modulate the activity of serotonin in the brain helping with PTSD social anxiety, mood, and panic attacks.

Other medications listed above are not recommended but can be used off-label. This is because these other medications do not really help with PTSD symptoms. In fact, some of these drugs, for instance, Xanax for PTSD might worsen the symptoms if not stopped at the right time.

Note: The dosage of each drug varies in each patient. Some patients might not be able to tolerate even 20 to 60 mg of paroxetine. So, follow your doctor’s advice and recommended dose.

To aid you in times of recovery from PTSD, some well-known PTSD inpatient treatment centers help you prevent the consequences of PTSD.

Inpatient therapy, like psychotherapy and PTSD medications, treats the signs and symptoms of PTSD. And this type of therapy may include:

  • PTSD counseling for families
  • Support groups
  • Exercise and yoga
  • A proper diet plan
  • Individualized treatment program
  • Holistic care

We understand that the trauma and memory associated with the traumatic event are not easy to handle. And for PTSD patients, it is an exhausting experience. The attacks, anxiety, flashbacks, depressions, insomnia, all of this can get overwhelming for PTSD patients. This is why, just like other medical conditions, we recommend you take early treatment to prevent the complications later.

Call us to speak to a therapist if you think you have PTSD!