Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

About

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Many of us either have or will experience some form of trauma during our lifetime. Often, we’re able to move on without any long-term effects. But for others, experiences of trauma linger, causing symptoms such as negative thoughts, nightmares, and flashbacks that interfere with everyday activities. 

What is PTSD? 

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a psychiatric condition that affects millions of children and adults in the United States. PTSD occurs when an individual is unable to recover from a traumatic event and suffers intense thoughts and feelings related to their experience long after the traumatic event itself has ended. It is possible to live normally with PTSD.

Causes

What causes PTSD?

Post-traumatic stress disorder can develop as a result of any stressful, frightening, or life-changing event. The most common causes of PTSD include serious accidents, physical or sexual assault, domestic abuse, and serious health problems. 

What are the risk factors of PTSD?

People can develop PTSD at any given age. However, several risk factors may increase one’s likelihood of developing PTSD after a traumatic event, such as:

  • History of mental illness or substance abuse
  • Experience of trauma earlier in life, such as childhood abuse
  • Having a job that increases your risk of being exposed to traumatic events (e.g., military personnel, first responders, etc.)
  • Witnessing a dead body or a person that is severely injured

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Symptoms

What are the symptoms of PTSD?

The symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder can be divided into four main categories: 

  • Intrusion
  • Avoidance
  • Alterations in cognition and mood
  • Alterations in arousal and reactivity

PTSD symptoms can vary in intensity over time. One may experience more symptoms during moments of stress or reminders of past experiences.

What are the symptoms of intrusive memories?

Intrusive memories are experienced in the form of nightmares, flashbacks, and distressing images. These memories are generally experienced as a present threat without the awareness that they occurred in the past. 

What are the symptoms of avoidance?

Avoidance is experienced by limiting thoughts or discussions about the traumatic event and avoiding places, activities, or people that remind you of the traumatic event.

What are the symptoms of negative changes in thinking and mood?

They consist of negative thoughts, hopelessness, memory problems, detachment from relationships, and lack of interest in activities once enjoyed.

What are the symptoms of changes in physical and emotional reactions?

They consist of irritability, self-destructive behavior, lack of sleep, overwhelming guilt or shame, and lack of concentration.

Diagnosis

When do people develop PTSD?

Anyone can develop PTSD. This includes children, veterans, and individuals who have been through an assault, disaster, or another serious event. Most people will develop symptoms within three months of their trauma, but symptoms may appear later and often persist for months and sometimes even years.

How is PTSD diagnosed?

To be diagnosed with PTSD, it's required that you’ve received exposure to one or more traumatic events involving the possibility of death, serious injury, or violence. Your doctor may perform a physical examination and psychological evaluation to determine signs, symptoms, and the event(s) that lead up to them.

How do I get tested for PTSD?

If you or someone you know has one or more symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, the first step to being diagnosed is to visit a medical professional or psychiatrist. Tell your doctor what signs you have noticed, and ask them for guidance and next steps. After evaluating your symptoms and medical history, your doctor may order several neuroimaging tests, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computerized tomography (CT), to rule out other conditions that might be mistaken with PTSD.

Treatment

How to treat PTSD?

There are numerous resources to help manage symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. Treatment for PTSD involves medication and psychotherapy.

  • Psychotherapy: When a patient’s psychosis subsides over time, in addition to being prescribed medication, they might undergo individual therapy, social skills training, and family therapy to help cope with their symptoms.
  • Medications: Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication are commonly prescribed to treat PTSD. 

How can I get diagnosed and treated for PTSD?

Although there is no definitive cure for post-traumatic stress disorder, there are numerous ways to reduce symptoms and distress related to the condition as research leads to safer, more innovative treatments. If you believe someone you love or know may suffer from PTSD, alert them of your concerns immediately. Seek medical attention from a medical professional at TeleMed2U and consult virtually with a number of our psychiatrists, all from the comfort of your home.

Information

Medically reviewed by:

Dr Roy Kedem, MD

Dr Zenon Andreou studied medicine at University College London, graduating in 2006. His postgraduate training was in hospitals in and around London and he trained for four years in Otolaryngology before completing his training in General practice

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with or without insurance

With Insurance

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Your copay
Depending on insurance

With Insurance

Behavioural Health

$89

Initial Visit

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Follow Up