Why do we worry about PTSD?

Post contributed by Dr Gwen Tonyane

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder commonly known as PTSD is one of the trauma and stressor-related disorders. Trauma- and stressor-related disorders are serious psychological reactions that develop in some individuals following exposure to a traumatic or stressful event. 

Traumatic or stressful events may include being a witness to or being involved 

  • in a violent accident or crime,
  • experiencing systemic emotional/physical or sexual abuse, 
  • natural disaster, 
  • military combat,
  • or torture.

Children don’t have to directly experience a traumatic event to have PTSD. WITNESSING, or LEARNING of the event(s) as it occurred to others, especially primary caregivers, can result in trauma-related disorders. 

PTSD can develop anywhere between 1 week to 30 years post the traumatic event and can be a debilitating illness.

Intrusion symptoms may include recurrent, involuntary, and distressing memories, thoughts, and dreams of the traumatic event. The individual may also experience flashbacks, a dissociative experience in which they feel or act as if the traumatic event is reoccurring.

Avoidance symptoms are efforts to avoid internal (memories, thoughts, feelings) and/or external (people, places, situations) reminders of the traumatic event. Preoccupation with avoiding trauma-related feelings and stimuli can become a central focus of the individual’s life..

Negative alterations in cognition and mood include problems remembering important aspects of the traumatic event, depression, fear, guilt, shame, and feelings of isolation from others.

Hyper-arousal symptoms include being jumpy and easily startled, irritability, angry outbursts, self-destructive behaviour, problems concentrating, and difficulty sleeping.

(PTSD) is distinct from most psychiatric disorders because the condition must be precipitated or initiated by a stressor. Exposure to traumatic events and prolonged emotional neglect may cause children and adolescents to exhibit unusual thoughts and behaviours.

Children and adolescents may experience and express intense psychological distress and reactions, different to adults.

Why do we worry about PTSD?

Approximately 66% of ppl with PTSD suffer from other psychiatric disorders, commonly depressive disorders, substance use disorders, anxiety disorders and bipolar-related illnesses.

Symptoms fluctuate over time, worsen during periods of stress and may worsen to present with psychotic symptoms if left untreated.

PTSD symptoms may present with and worsen other medical conditions such as diabetes, neurological disorders, obesity, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune and endocrine disorders

Children and adolescents suffering from PTSD lack adequate coping mechanisms to deal with the traumatic events and adults sometimes use unhealthy rigid coping mechanisms to deal with the trauma, which may worsen the condition.

Can PTSD be treated?

The majority of patients that suffer from PTSD do recover, with adequate treatment and psychotherapy. Treatment may include medication, trauma counselling, exposure-based interventions and/or cognitive-behavioural interventions, which your treating psychiatrist or therapist will discuss with you. 

When in doubt, or you may think your child or yourself, may have symptoms suggestive of PTSD. Kindly book an appointment with us today at any of our Evexia branches (Menlyn or Midstream)

“Disclaimer: The views expressed above are my own, these medical posts are purely for educational purposes. References can be made available on request. It is important to always consult with your treating healthcare professional for a thorough assessment and appropriate treatment: Dr Gwen Tonyane”

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