June 27th is PTSD Awareness Day, and Abarca goes all in to bring to light some of the symptoms, signs, and treatment options for this mental health disorder. Although PTSD has been most commonly known to affect war veterans, anyone can develop this disorder.
Today, people suffer from PTSD for varying reasons, including the after trauma inflicted after natural disasters such as earthquakes and hurricanes, as well as pandemics like the one the world is currently recovering from due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a disorder that develops in some people who have experienced a shocking, frightening, or dangerous event.
When a person undergoes a situation that invokes fear, many split-second changes in the body are triggered to help defend or avoid danger – this is called a “fight-or-flight” response. Most people will experience a scope of reactions after trauma, yet most people recover from initial symptoms naturally. If a person continues to experience problems, they may be diagnosed with PTSD and may feel stressed or frightened, even when they are not in danger.
Possible signs and symptoms that usually last for more than one month:
* Unexpected or expected reoccurring, involuntary, and intrusive upsetting memories of the traumatic event
* Repeated upsetting dreams where the content of the dreams is related to the traumatic event
* Avoidance of people, places, conversations, activities, objects, or situations that bring up memories of the traumatic event
* Loss of interest in activities that you used to enjoy
* Persistent and elevated negative evaluations about yourself, others, or the world (for example, “I am unlovable,” or “The world is an evil place”)
* Irritability or aggressive behavior
* Feeling constantly “on guard” or like danger is lurking around every corner (or hypervigilance)
Possible Factors that can increase the risk for PTSD include:
* Living through a dangerous event and/or traumas
* Getting hurt
* Seeing another person hurt, or seeing a dead body
* Childhood trauma
* Feeling horror, helplessness, or extreme fear
* Having little or no social support after the event
* Dealing with extra stress after the event, such as loss of a loved one, pain and injury, or loss of a job or home
* Having a history of mental illness or substance abuse
Treatments & Therapies
As with all conditions, PTSD affects people differently, so a treatment that may work for one person may not have the same effect on another. The main treatments are medications, psychotherapy, or both. If you or someone you know is suffering from PTSD, it is important to seek help from an experienced mental health provider.
Most people with PTSD don’t feel comfortable getting the help they need. Join Abarca in spreading the word that effective treatments are available —whether the person suffering is a veteran or survivor of sexual assault, a serious accident, natural disasters, or other traumatic events, treatments are available and can lead to a better quality of life.
* The National Center for PTSD, part of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, has a website with targeted information for anyone interested in PTSD (including veterans, family, and friends) and for professional researchers and health care providers. The site also offers videos and information about an online app called PTSD Coach.
* Clinician’s Guide to Medications for PTSD: This material was developed for researchers, providers, and helpers by the U.S. Department for Veterans Affairs.
* Information for health care professionals: The National Center for PTSD offers a page of general information about the effects of events such as natural disasters and terrorist acts, reviews of disaster research, and useful resources for care providers.
* Information for the general public: The National Center for PTSD offers resources about the effects of PTSD and trauma on families, children, and relationships. Materials include resources for families and veterans and suggestions for helping caregivers respond to children.
This blog was written by Lillian Colón López, MPH, Pharm. D., Clinical Client Advisor at Abarca Health.