Let’s bring some attention and awareness to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder by learning about what it is, the causes, and common symptoms. It’s estimated that 76% of Canadians experience at least one traumatic even in their lifetime; 9% of Canadians will suffer from PTSD in their lifetime.
What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?
The American Psychiatric Association defines PTSD as “a psychiatric disorder that may occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist act, war/combat, or rape. The individual may have been threatened with death, sexual violence or serious injury.”
What causes PTSD?
Everyone responds to trauma differently; what is traumatic to one person may not be as traumatic for someone else. Trauma is the emotional response to an acutely distressing or disturbing event that can overwhelm one’s ability to cope.
Life events that may cause PTSD include:
- Physical, emotional, or sexual abuse
- Motor vehicle accident
- Being bullied
- Surviving a natural disaster, such as flooding, earthquakes, or pandemics
Common symptoms of PTSD include:
- Flashbacks where one relives the traumatic event and has a physiological reaction such as racing heart or sweating
- Reoccuring memories or dreams about the event
- Upsetting thoughts
- Avoiding places, events, or objects that are reminds of what happened
- Avoiding thoughts or feelings that are related to the trauma
Cognitive and Mood Symptoms
- Trouble remembering important details about the traumatic experience
- Negative thoughts about oneself and the world
- Distorted thoughts about the event that cause feelings of blame
- Constant negative emotions, like fear, guilt, anger, or shame
- Loss of interest in activities one used to find pleasurable
- Social isolation
- Difficulty feeling positive emotions, like happiness or satisfaction
Arousal and Reactivity Symptoms
- Being easily startled, feeling tense, on guard, or “on edge”
- Difficulty concentrating
- Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
- Feeling irritable, or having angry/aggressive outbursts
- Engaging in risky, reckless, or destructive behavior
If you are concerned that you or your loved one may be suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, speak to your doctor or book an appointment online with myself here or one of our other practitioners.
The full DSM-IV criteria for PTSD can be found here.