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Creating awareness on PTSD for locals

A diagnosis of PTSD is made when the symptoms cause distress and interference in daily life.

June is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Awareness Month.

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As explained by SADAG, it is also called shell shock, battle figure, accident neurosis and post-rape syndrome (which is often misunderstood and misdiagnosed, even though the condition presents with very specific symptoms that comprise a definite psychiatric disorder).

A diagnosis of PTSD is made when the symptoms cause distress and interference in daily life.

PTSD is a debilitating condition which follows a traumatic event.

Often, people with PTSD are plagued by persistent frightening memories of the traumatic event which set off the condition and feel emotionally numbed by the ordeal.

The depression and anxiety group stated that the disorder was first brought to the public attention by war veterans following the Korean and Vietnam wars, but can result from any number of traumatic incidents, including earthquakes, aircraft crashes, hijackings, domestic violence or violent attacks.

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PTSD can be triggered not only by experiencing a traumatic event but also through witnessing a traumatic event such as the mass destruction of an aircraft crash.

Psychiatrists estimate that up to 10% of the population has been affected by clinically diagnosable PTSD. Still more show only some symptoms of the disorder.

Not all people who have experienced trauma will develop PTSD or require treatment; some recover with the help of family, friends or other support.

But many do require professional help to successfully recover from the symptoms that can result from experiencing, witnessing or participating in an overwhelmingly traumatic event.

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According to SADAG, although the understanding of PTSD is based primarily on studies of trauma in adults, PTSD can occur in children as well.

PTSD usually appears within three months of the trauma, but sometimes the condition may surface months or even years later.

Doctors categorise PTSD symptoms into three groups: intrusive symptoms, avoidance symptoms and symptoms of hyper-arousal.

Intrusive: people sufferings from PTSD may have episodes where the traumatic event “intrudes” into their current life.

This occurs using sudden, vivid memories accompanied by painful emotions which take over the victim’s attention. This re-experiencing of the trauma is a flashback, therefore, a recollection so powerful that the individual may feel as if the trauma is being experienced all over again.

In traumatised children, this re-living of the trauma often occurs in the form of repetitive play.

At times, the re-experiencing occurs in nightmares that appear so real the person wakes up screaming in terror as if the trauma was being re-enacted in sleep.

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In young children, distressing dreams of the traumatic event evolve into generalised nightmares of monsters, threats to other people and rescue attempts.

Avoidance: these symptoms affect a person’s relationships with other people because he or she will avoid close emotional ties with family, friends and colleagues.

At first, the person may feel emotionally numbed, with emotions often diminished to the extent that only routine, mechanical activities are completed. When re-experiencing the event later, the individual alternates between the flood of emotions caused by re-experiencing the event and the inability to feel or express emotions.

PTSD sufferers will frequently say that they cannot feel emotion, especially towards those closest to them.

When emotions are felt, there is often difficulty in expressing them.

As the avoidance continues, the person may seem bored, cold or preoccupied.

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Family members often feel rebuffed by the PTSD sufferer because he or she mechanically lacks affection and acts.
Hyper-arousal: PTSD can cause sufferers to act as if they are continually threatened by the trauma that caused their illness.

Sufferers often become irritable, even when not provoked, and may have trouble concentrating or remembering current information.

Insomnia (difficulty sleeping) may develop as a result of irritability.

PTSD sufferers may have exaggerated startle reactions. For instance, a war veteran may revert to combat behaviour and dive for cover when the sound of a car backfiring or a string of firecrackers exploding is heard.

At times, those with PTSD can suffer panic attacks, resulting from the extreme fear they felt during the traumatic event.

During their attack, their throats tighten, while breathing and their heart rate increase dramatically, resulting in feelings of nausea and dizziness.


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