Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
What is PTSD?
A traumatic experience is an event that causes intense feelings of stress, fear, and injury on physical and mental levels. Experiencing a car accident, losing a loved one unexpectedly, witnessing violence, and natural disasters are all examples of traumatic situations. Many people will feel a variety of different emotions following these events and recover on their own after a period of time.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a disorder that develops when people are exposed to a stressful and traumatic event, and continue to experience a high degree of fear or stress for much longer even when they are no longer in danger.
What Causes PTSD?
While it is still unclear about the exact causes of PTSD, it is predicted to be caused by a mix of many factors including:
1) Stressful experiences
Being directly exposed to trauma or indirectly learning through individuals who have been exposed to trauma.
2) Inherited mental health risks
Inherited mental health issues can also play a role in the onset of PTSD. For example, you may be more likely to develop PTSD if there is a family history or if a family member has other mental health issues.
3) Biological factors
Individual brain structure can also influence the development of PTSD due to the way we regulate the chemicals and hormones in our body, and how it responds to stress.
What Are The Signs & Symptoms?
Feeling angry or irritable
Feeling easily scared or overly alert of surroundings for danger
Dizziness and other aches and pains
Difficulty remembering things and making decisions
Reliving traumatic events through flashbacks
Unwanted memories of the traumatic event (ex. A specific sound, smell, or taste)
Feeling numb, hopeless, or depressed
Lack of interests in hobbies and activities
Feeling detached from social circles
Self-destructive behaviour (reckless drinking or driving)
Avoiding places or people connected with traumatic events
Coping With PTSD
Healing from a traumatic event can take time and vary in severity over time. For example, seeing a certain person, hearing a certain sound, or tasting a certain food may cause triggering feelings associated with the trauma.
If you start to recognize these thoughts and feelings becoming more intrusive and severe over time, reaching out for support may help you develop a plan to work through these feelings.
Different types of therapy such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) may help you to cope with the intrusive thoughts and behaviours associated with trauma.
Attending support groups may also help you to gain a different perspective of the situation through connecting with individuals going through similar experiences.
In some cases, medication may be used in combination with other strategies to deal with other symptoms like depression and anxiety.
Each person is different and finding the right kinds of support that work for you can help to maintain overall well-being and build resilience over time.
It is always best to talk to your doctor about any concerns or questions you might have. This page should not be used as a resource to self-diagnose.
PTSD Infographics & Tip Sheets