Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is a common reaction to a traumatic situation. Chemical changes in the brain may occur when an person witnesses or experiences a traumatic or a life-threatening event. PTSD is more prevalent than you may think:
▪ An estimated 70 percent of U.S. adults have experienced a traumatic event at least once in their lives. Up to 20 percent of these people develop PTSD.
▪ An estimated 5 percent of Americans — more than 13 million people — have PTSD at any given time.
▪ Approximately 8 percent of all adults — one of 13 people in this country — will develop PTSD during their lifetimes.
▪ An estimated one out of 10 women will get PTSD at some point. Women are about twice as likely as men to develop PTSD.
▪ People with PTSD may have low self-esteem, relationship problems or may seem disconnected from their lives.
Anyone who has been victimized or witnessed a violent act, or who has been repeatedly exposed to life-threatening situations could be at risk for PTSD. Survivors of unexpected events in everyday life may develop PTSD. Responses to trauma vary, and many people who experience extreme trauma do not develop PTSD. However, for those who do, PTSD symptoms usually appear within several weeks of the trauma. Some people don’t experience symptoms until months or even years later.
Symptoms may include re-living the event through recurring nightmares and exhibiting extreme emotional or physical reactions, such as chills, heart palpitations or panic when faced with reminders of the event. Those with PTSD may avoid reminders of the events by emotionally detaching themselves and withdrawing from family and friends. Other symptoms may include being on guard or hyper-aroused at all times, often feeling irritable or exhibiting symptoms of sudden anger, difficulty in sleeping or lack of concentration.
Difficulties that may mask or intensify PTSD symptoms include:
▪ Psychological problems, such as depression or other anxiety disorders, including panic disorder.
▪ Physical complaints, such as chronic pain, fatigue, stomach pains, respiratory problems, headaches, muscle cramps or aches, lower back pain or cardiovascular problems.
▪ Self-destructive behavior, including alcohol or drug abuse, as well as suicidal tendencies.
Treatment is available and can involve psychotherapy, medication or a combination of both. Discuss symptoms with your health care provider to determine what type of treatment may be best for you.
Dr. Mazhar Salim, a psychiatrist with Baptist Health Medical Group Briscoe Clinic, practices at Baptist Health Corbin.