It is common to feel upset, frightened, anxious or disconnected after a traumatic event has occurred in your life. It can even take a few days or weeks to start feeling better. However, sometimes the trauma is so overwhelming that it consumes your life and you cannot move forward. You may feel stuck with upsetting and painful memories that make you anxious and fearful all the time. You may be having a difficult time getting back to the life you had before this experience. If this is the case, you may be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD.) Some symptoms are:
- Re-experiencing the traumatic event (flashbacks, dreams)
- Avoiding reminders of the trauma
- Increased anxiety and emotional arousal (rapid heart beat)
PTSD develops differently from person to person. While the symptoms of PTSD most commonly develop in the hours or days following the traumatic event, it can sometimes take weeks, months, or even years before they appear. Some examples of trigger events are as follows:
- Natural disasters
- Car or plane crashes
- Terrorist attacks
- Sudden death of a loved one
- Sexual or physical abuse
- Childhood neglect
Cognitive-behavioral therapy for PTSD involves carefully and gradually exposing yourself to thoughts, feelings, and situations that remind you of the trauma. Therapy also involves identifying distressing images about the traumatic event, especially ones that are distorted and irrational, and replacing them with a more balanced depiction.
Medication is sometimes prescribed for depression which can occur as a secondary affect of PTSD.
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