Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

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PTSD is one of the oldest descriptions and is highly researched among all the various post-trauma conditions. Initially articulated within the military personnel and war scenarios, the set of symptoms under the umbrella of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder has since been seen and generalized to many other circumstances of the assault, accidents, natural disasters, etc. PTSD is generally preceded by exposure to a highly horrifying, threatening life event. This exposure to the traumatic event can be direct (experienced by the individual) and indirect (witnessing or hearing that someone else had been exposed to a traumatic event). The post-trauma responses include:

(a). Re-experiencing the traumatic event through involuntary and intrusive or repetitive thoughts/images, nightmares or flashbacks wherein the individual feels as if the traumatic event is happening all over again. These flashbacks can be very sudden and can be severely debilitating, further leading to experiences of intense fear, anxiety or panic, dizziness, etc. They can be experienced in any of the five senses. Thus, the triggers involved can be from any sensory modality. 

(b). Avoidance of any memories of the event. This includes avoiding any activity, situations, places, or people that seem similar to the original traumatic event. 

(c). A constant lookout for threats in the environment. This involves hypervigilance (always on the alert mode), being easily startled due to unexpected stimuli such as loud noise, higher overall physical arousal, etc.    

(d). Negative shift in mood and thinking patterns. This can be reflected via numbing, withdrawal, anger outbursts, inability to form trust, poor interpersonal relationships, pessimistic worldview, etc. The feelings of helplessness, defeat, and worthlessness can develop over time. This altered perception of the self and the others can lead to the development of dysfunctional coping resources such as the use of drugs and alcohol, rash and impulsive decision making, etc. 

These clusters of symptoms can become very severe and lead to additional psychiatric conditions, decreased work performance, dissatisfaction with life, and overall reduced well-being. 

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