Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PSTD) is a common health issue. In the US alone, up to 8 million people live with the condition. Read on to discover who is at risk, symptoms to look out for, and what to do if you think you might have the condition.
What Is PSTD?
PSTD is a mental health problem that patients develop after experiencing life-threatening events such as combat, a natural disaster, or sexual assault.
Who Can Be Affected?
Anyone is at risk of getting PSTD as long as they’ve been exposed to psychological trauma. A number of factors, however, increase the risks of getting the condition, with many of these factors out of our control. For instance, getting involved in a traumatic car accident significantly increases the risks of PSTD.
How Prevalent Is The Condition?
The figures are sketchy, but it’s estimated that in the US, 7-8 out of every 100 people will experience PSTD at some point. This translates to around 8% of the population. Comparing the genders, women are more affected. Currently, 8 out of 100 women have PSTD whereas, in men, the figure is around 4 for every 100.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of PSTD?
Medical professionals have grouped Post Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms into four categories; reliving the event (characterized by nightmares, triggers, or flashbacks), avoiding situations that remind us of the event, feeling keyed up (hyperarousal), and negative changes in beliefs and feelings. It’s important to remember that symptoms aren’t always the same for everyone.
What Steps Should I Take If I Think I Might Have PSTD?
If you’re experiencing any of the PSTD symptoms listed above, you need to see a professional mental health provider right away to undergo tests so you can determine for sure if you have the condition. There are also self-assessments such as the Self-Screen for PSTD which you can use. However, seeing a medical professional is your best option.
What The Treatment Options?
There are two main treatment options for people with PSTD – physiotherapy and medication. Sometimes you may even need a combination of the two.
Physiotherapy, or counseling, involves meeting with and talking to a therapist. There are two main physiotherapy approaches; Trauma-focused therapy (which includes Cognitive Process Therapy (CPT) and Prolonged Exposure (PE)) and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). Medications, meanwhile, include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs).
Can People With PSTD Get Better?
Definitely! If you get the right treatment, you will get better without a doubt. What you need to remember, however, is that getting better doesn’t always mean healing completely. For many people, the treatments options discussed above are sufficient to get rid of all symptoms and restore normal health. For others, however, the symptoms might not all go away completely. But, even if this happens, there will always be huge improvements.
If you or a loved one has PSTD, don’t wait. See a medical specialist immediately. The longer you wait, the more complicated recovery becomes.