What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?
Something horrible has happened to you or someone close to you. For example a near death experience, a car accident, war experiences or being a victim of a violent crime.
The disorder can be divided into four parts the first is trauma, the second is re-experiencing the trauma, the third is avoiding anything which is a reminder of the trauma and finally the fourth is increased arousal.
Traumas are usually violent and deadly in nature. That overwhelms a person’s ability to cope. A complicating factor is the sense of being helpless or out of control. Being shot at is a common example. Being robbed, raped, beaten or tortured. Violent natural or man made events where death is possible.
The re-experiencing the trauma involves nightmares or flashbacks. People feel they are re-living, every aspect of the trauma. They may experience illusions and hallucinations of the traumatic event.
The avoidance component is another key aspect of the trauma. Individuals avoid all psychological and physical cues which remind them of the trauma. Sounds, smells, images, people, places and things may trigger memories of the traumatic event. Someone who has been shot may become actually distressed when they hear a gunshot, see a gun, smell gun powder, or when they hear the word gun.
Increased arousal is the jumpiness associated with P.T.S.D. The person has trouble falling asleep, is irritable, has anger outbursts, problems concentrating, hypervilgiance, and gets startled easily. Put these four things together for more than a month and you have P.T.S.D.
Initially people with this disorder can’t explain what’s going on. A large percentage of these individuals begin to abuse alcohol, opiates (Roxicodone, Oxycodone) Benzodiazepines (Xanax, Valium and Ativan) and marijuana. The illness commonly involves drug dependency.
These individuals begin to have job and relationship problems. They find it hard to fit into society so they begin to isolate and withdrawal from other people.
Treatment involves getting them off drugs of abuse, with medication and psychotherapy. Medications for depression like Zoloft, Prozac, Lexapro, Paxil, Trazadone, Effexor and Remeron may help while antihypertensive like Inderal and Catapres may help in treatment by revising arousal. Antipsychotic’s like Risperdal, Abilify, Zyprexa, Geodon, and Seroquel may help. Mood stabilizers like Depakote, Lamictal and Trileptal are beneficial. Sleeps aids like Ambien, Sonata and Lunesta help. The combination of psychotherapy, drug addiction treatment, medication management, exercise and supportive friends and is what’s used to treat people with PTSD.