Ask Your Doctor: POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER

anguillian
By anguillian October 16, 2017 10:30

 

 

 

The passage of Hurricane Irma has affected everyone resident in Anguilla in one way or the other, some to a greater degree than others. Healthcare professionals are aware of several disorders that might be related to this traumatic event, but post-traumatic stress disorder is one of the most significant disorders that might be of great concern in the short term and in the years to come.

What is post-traumatic stress disorder?
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a disorder that develops in some people who have experienced a shocking, scary or dangerous event – for instance, Hurricane Irma. Not everyone with PTSD has been through a dangerous event. Some experiences, like the sudden, unexpected death of a loved one, can also cause PTSD.
It is natural to feel afraid during and after a traumatic situation. Fear triggers many split-second changes in the body to help defend against danger or to avoid it. This “fight-or-flight” response is a typical reaction meant to protect a person from harm. Nearly everyone will experience a range of reactions after trauma, yet most people recover from initial symptoms naturally. Those who continue to experience problems may be diagnosed with PTSD. People who have PTSD may feel stressed or frightened even when they are not in danger.
PTSD causes problems in a person’s daily life such as in relationships and at work. It can also take a toll on his or her physical health as well but, with treatment, the individual can live a fulfilling life.

What causes PTSD?
Doctors are not sure why some people get PTSD. As with most mental health problems, PTSD is probably caused by a complex mix of:
• Stressful experiences including the amount and severity of trauma you have gone through in your life
• Inherited mental health risks such as a family history of anxiety and depression
• Inherited features of your personality
• The way your brain regulates the chemicals and hormones your body releases in response to stress

What are some signs and symptoms of PTSD?
Signs and symptoms might vary from one individual to another. Symptoms usually begin early, within 3 months of the traumatic incident, but sometimes they begin years afterward. Symptoms must last more than a month and be severe enough to interfere with relationships, or work, to be considered PTSD.
PTSD symptoms are generally grouped into four types: intrusive memories, avoidance, negative changes in thinking and mood, and changes in physical and emotional reactions.
Some people recover within 6 months while others have symptoms that last much longer. In some people, the condition becomes chronic.
Individuals might also have re-experience symptoms such as flashbacks, bad dreams and frightening thoughts.

When to see a doctor
If you have disturbing thoughts and feelings about a traumatic event for more than a month, if they are severe, or if you feel you are having trouble getting your life back under control, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional. Getting treatment as soon as possible can help prevent PTSD symptoms from getting worse.
Suicidal thoughts
If you or someone you know has suicidal thoughts, get help right away. You can contact your doctor or mental health professional – or you can reach out to a close friend or loved one or contact a minister, a spiritual leader or someone in your community. Do not ignore suicidal thoughts!

Treatment
Post-traumatic stress disorder treatment can help the individual regain a sense of control over his or her life. The primary treatment is psychotherapy, but can also include medication. Some individuals require a combination of psychotherapy and medication.

Conclusion
If stress and other problems caused by a traumatic event, such as Hurricane Irma, affect your life, see your doctor or mental health professional. Various treatment options are available. Treatment can be effective, and most people do recover. You do not have to go through this difficult time without therapy and help.

Ask Your Doctor is a health education column and is not a substitute for medical advice from your physician. The reader should consult his or her physician for specific information concerning specific medical conditions. While all reasonable efforts have been made to ensure that all information presented is accurate, as research and development in the medical field are ongoing, it is possible that new findings may supersede some data presented.

Dr Brett Hodge MB BS DGO MRCOG, is an Obstetrician/Gynaecologist and Family Doctor who has over thirty-two years in clinical practice. Dr Hodge has a medical practice in The Johnson Building in The Valley (Tel: 264 4975828).

anguillian
By anguillian October 16, 2017 10:30

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