Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) occurs as a delayed mental reaction to an extremely stressful event, a situation of extraordinary threat or catastrophic scale. The experiences (traumas) can be of a longer or shorter duration, such as serious accidents, violent crimes, natural disasters or acts of war, whereby the affected people experience feelings such as fear and defenselessness and feel helplessness and loss of control in the absence of their subjective coping options.
Typical for PTSD are the so-called symptoms of reliving, which impose themselves on the sufferer during the day in the form of memories of the trauma, daydreaming or flashbacks, at night in anxiety dreams. To a certain extent, the counterpart to this are the avoidance symptoms, which usually occur parallel to the symptoms of reliving: emotional dullness, indifference and apathy towards the environment and other people, active avoidance of activities and situations that could evoke memories of the trauma. Sometimes important aspects of the traumatic experience can no longer be (completely) remembered. Often there is a state of vegetative overexcitation, which can manifest itself in the form of sleep disorders, irritability, difficulty concentrating, increased alertness or pronounced frightfulness.
Terrible experiences such as catastrophes, experiences of violence, sexual abuse or serious accidents can put a lot of strain on life afterwards and throw people off course. Such an experience is called trauma, which in psychology means “mental injury”. Traumatic experiences are sometimes difficult to process, and some people develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result. Both victims and witnesses of a dramatic event can develop PTSD.
Typical for this disorder is that one does not let go of the experience and the stressful memories come back again and again. Support from other people is especially important in such a life situation. Psychotherapy can help to cope with the experiences over time.
Post-traumatic stress disorder is characterized by
stressful thoughts: The trauma is lived through again and again. Often very clear memories come up suddenly that cannot be suppressed, so-called flashbacks. The images and feelings that arise are felt as if the event were happening again at that moment. Many people have recurring nightmares. Flashbacks and dreams can revive fear and helplessness, feelings of threat, guilt and shame, but also cause physical complaints such as pain.
Overexcitability: people with PTSD are particularly alert and often on a kind of constant alert: they sleep poorly, cannot concentrate well, are irritable and impulsive. In addition, they react very strongly to stimuli that remind them of what happened, such as certain smells, sounds or images. In the process, there may be palpitations, chest tightness, difficulty breathing and trembling.
Avoidance behavior: Those affected avoid situations, places or people that are related to the experience and could evoke memories and flashbacks. This also applies to certain activities, thoughts or conversations. Some people with PTSD withdraw or lose interest in things that used to be important to them. Some feel alien in their own lives. Some repress their experiences so much that they no longer remember important parts of the traumatic event. PTSD can also make you feel unemotional and numb inside. It is often not possible to classify and process what has been experienced.
negative thoughts and moods: in many people, confidence in themselves and others is shaken. Their self-esteem often decreases sharply, they perceive themselves as weak and powerless. Often they torment themselves with questions such as: why did it happen to me? How could I have prevented it? Am I guilty? They can also be very irritable or constantly upset. You may be angry at the person who caused the trauma, but also at people from whom you did not feel sufficiently supported afterwards, for example, police officers or hospital staff.
What does PTSD do to a person?
What are the 5 symptoms of PTSD?
How do u know if u have PTSD?
What are examples of PTSD?