Living in an unstable country, with risks of violent attacks or natural disasters, can create a sense of unsafety and can lead to anxiety complaints. When you are personally exposed to a seriously stressful situation you may suffer from post-traumatic stress. This can happen when you are exposed to a life-threatening situation, serious physical injury or a threat to your physical integrity. But a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can also develop from traumatic experiences outside of war zones, such as physical or sexual abuse, being bullied during childhood or being in a car accident.
Symptoms of PTSD include vivid memories of the event (flashbacks), sleeping problems and nightmares, irritability, problems with concentration and feeling startled easily. Often symptoms of depression (low mood, loss of appetite and social withdrawal) also occur. A diagnosis of PTSD can be set when the symptoms last for 1 month or longer. Most people with PTSD have a series of avoidance behaviors to help them cope with these symptoms (for example, avoiding certain situations that resemble the traumatic event, or avoidance of thinking about the event). Avoidance can also occur through substance abuse, such as drinking or smoking weed to not think of the event and to feel calmer.
Even though most people experience some of these symptoms directly after a traumatic event, not everyone who goes through trauma actually gets PTSD. It is thought that a combination of a traumatic event, inherited mental health risks, your temperament and the way your brain regulates hormones and reacts to stress determines if you actually get PTSD. Also, there are some factors that increase the risk of getting PTSD:
· Intensity and duration of the trauma
· Having gone through previous trauma (for example childhood abuse)
· Having other mental health problems or substance abuse
· Lacking a good support system
Getting timely support may prevent normal stress reactions from getting worse and developing into PTSD. This may mean turning to family and friends who will listen and offer comfort. They also may help prevent you from turning to unhealthy coping methods, such as misuse of alcohol or drugs. Support could also mean seeking out a mental health professional for a brief course of therapy. Some people may also find it helpful to turn to their faith community.
Do you recognize the symptoms in yourself? Please contact us to see how we can help.