Individual strategies to prevent PTSD include; creating continued contact with support people, disclosing trauma to support system, identifying as a survivor rather than a victim and helping others with similar problems.
Therapeutic Tools for PTSD
Cognitive behavioral therapy
This type of therapy seeks to define how thoughts, feelings and behavior influence each other to promote quality of life. Cognitive behavioral therapy helps PTSD individuals change their perceptions and helps them cope with their traumatic experiences (Murray, Cohen, & Mannarino, 2013).
Changing negative thought patterns of individuals reduces their anxiety and fear that something bad is always bound to occur.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy
This type of therapy consists of identifying and addressing symptoms that stem from exposure from traumatic events. It is a systematic approach that identifies past traumatic events, triggers and the future needs of the PTSD individual. The therapy first defines the traumatic event, the PTSD symptoms of the individual and the triggers that remind the individual of past events. Then an assessment is done to determine the measures that will change the beliefs of the individual for him to respond to traumatic triggers. The individual is then taught on self-control measures that enable them to respond to triggers that remind them of traumatic events.
Outcomes of PTSD
PTSD disrupts social functions of individuals and is the cause of severe health concerns on people. PTSD is associated with sleep dysfunction and chronic pain. Sleep disorder is the basis of many mental health issues and has a long term effect on physical health (Williams et al. 2019). An individual with PTSD is likely to be depressed, have suicidal thoughts, shy away from making social relations and constantly have anxiety attacks.
PTSD is manageable and treatable. With proper practices and care victims can navigate their way past this disorder. Individuals should actively take personal measures to get help. Steps to lead a positive life with PTSD include working with a therapist, taking care of you and reaching out to others. Working with a therapist ensures that the problem is identified and a problem oriented solution is applied. Taking care of you refers to adopting lifestyle changes that reduce anxiety. Reaching out to others is creating a personal support system that helps an individual cope with the traumatic experiences.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Post- traumatic stress disorder is a mental dysfunction that develops after being exposed to threating and dreadful occurrences (Bisson, Cosgrove, Lewis, & Robert, 2015). PTSD can occur even after a single traumatic event. Traumatic events are occurrences that can cause pain, serious injuries and death on individuals and others, and exacts feelings of fear, helplessness and horror. Continued exposure to traumatic events also causes PTSD, such as continued bullying or sexual abuse. Stressful experiences and the severity of these occurrences define the intensity of PTSD.
Symptoms of PTSD
PTSD symptoms may show after a few days but some may appear after a long time even a year. PTSD symptoms cause dysfunctions in creating social relations and interrupts personal ability to perform daily tasks. The symptoms include intrusive recollections, avoiding trauma related situations and activities, negative alterations in cognitions, and changes in physical and emotional reactions (Williams, Smith, Trujillo, Perrin, Griffin & Rybarczyk, 2019)
Intrusive Recollections include recurring destructive memories from traumatic events, flashbacks on traumatic events and physical reaction to triggers that remind you of traumatic events.
Avoidance refers to staying away from things, places or people that remind you of traumatic events.
Negative Cognition consists of forming negative thoughts about oneself and others, feeling helpless, lack of interest in social relations and difficulties in expressing positive emotions.
Arousal symptoms are physical reactions to triggers that remind an individual of traumatic events. Physical reaction include being easily frightened, being constantly on guard, aggressive behavior and shame.
Effects of PTSD
Prolonged exposure to traumatic events causes intrusive thoughts and changes in memory concentration. Exposure to stressful events triggers the body’s response rate, PTSD victims are always in constant fear that something bad is bound to happen. Constant anxiety and fear makes an individual’s body to be in the state of response to perceived threats. Body responses happen spontaneously and are essential for survival. Body responses include increased adrenaline, increased heart rate and increased blood flow to ready the body to react. The body does not distinguish between real threats and imagine threats therefore every time a PTSD victim feels threated their body inflammation increases.
Inflammation refers to the processes of the body’s immune system fighting against infection, injury or toxins. The body releases chemicals to trigger responses against perceived threats.
Trauma disrupts the inflammatory system and since the body responds to imaginary threats increased inflammation poses threats to normal body functions. Chronic inflammation can cause cardiovascular diseases and autoimmune diseases.
Cardiovascular diseases are conditions affecting the heart and blood vessels
Autoimmune diseases are diseases affecting the immune system by increasing or decreasing the immune’s system activities.
Effects on the Brain
The brain undergoes stress induced changes as a result of traumatic events. The hippocampus, and prefrontal cortex are stimulated during a stress response, therefore traumatic stress directly affects the brain
“Hippocampus: is located within the medial temporal lobe of the brain, the hippocampus consolidates information from short-term into long-term memory, as well as controls spatial memory that is associated with navigation.”
Prolonged exposure to traumatic stress changes the function of the hippocampus. Changes in hippocampus activity causes memory dysfunctions and would make individuals have trouble in verbally declaring memories.
Conditions that increase the likelihood of an individual developing PTSD after a traumatic event include
Occupational environment that increase exposure to traumatic events
Mental health problems
Lack of a good support system
Preventive Steps to Avoid the Disease
PTSD mainly develops because individuals do not address their experiences of traumatic events. Avoidance is a major symptom of PTSD therefore; to reduce the number of people likely to develop PTSD individuals need a good support system. A support system involves a group of people that provide emotional and physical support to an individual. The support system coaxes the individual into sharing and talking about past experiences, this equips an individual with coping mechanisms and improves their general health.
Not all traumatic events can be prevented; it is therefore easier to control reactions to these events rather controlling traumatic events. To avoid PTSD an individual strategy to respond positively horrific occurrences comes in handy.