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How is PTSD diagnosed

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), also known as shell shock, is a dangerous condition that can develop when a person has experienced or witnessed a traumatic or distressing incident in which substantial bodily damage or threat was present. PTSD is a long-term effect of traumatic experiences that evoke great fear, helplessness, or terror. The development of recognizable symptoms following exposure to one or more traumatic experiences is a key component of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Fear-based re-experiencing, emotional, and behavioural symptoms may prevail in certain people. Anhedonic or dysphoric mood states, as well as negative cognition, may be particularly upsetting in others. Arousal and reactive-externalizing symptoms are strong in some people, whereas dissociative symptoms prevail in others. Some people display a mix of these symptom patterns.

PTSD is not diagnosed until at least one month has elapsed following the distressing incident. If PTSD symptoms are present, the doctor will begin the examination with a thorough medical history and physical exam. Although there are no particular lab tests for PTSD, the doctor may perform a variety of tests to rule out physical disease as the origin of the symptoms. If no physical sickness is discovered, the patient may be directed to a psychiatrist, psychologist, or other mental health professional who has received particular training to diagnose and treat mental illnesses. Psychiatrists and psychologists utilize specifically devised interview and diagnostic methods to determine whether a person has PTSD or another psychiatric illness. The clinician makes a diagnosis of PTSD based on reported symptoms, including any functional issues induced by the symptoms. The doctor next decides if the symptoms and level of dysfunction point to PTSD.

PTSD is diagnosed when a person’s PTSD symptoms linger for more than a month. In the immediate aftermath of a trauma, an individual’s reaction fits criteria for acute stress disorder. The symptoms of PTSD, as well as the relative prominence of certain symptoms, might change over time. The duration of the symptoms also varies, with complete healing happening in around half of people within 3 months, while other individuals remain symptomatic for longer than 12 months, and in extreme cases for more than 50 years. Recurrence and exacerbation of symptoms may occur as a result of reminders of the initial trauma, ongoing life pressures, or newly encountered traumatic experiences. PTSD symptoms in elderly people may be exacerbated by failing health, poor cognitive performance, and social isolation. Although the majority of traumatized people suffer short-term symptoms, the vast majority do not acquire long-term (chronic) PTSD.

Not everyone who has PTSD has gone through a traumatic incident. Some events, such as the abrupt and unexpected loss of a loved one, can also result in PTSD. Symptoms normally appear within three months of the stressful event, although they might appear years afterwards. To be classified as PTSD, symptoms must endure more than a month and be severe enough to interfere with relationships or job. The sickness progresses in a variety of ways. Some people heal after 6 months, while others experience symptoms for much longer. The problem can become chronic in certain individuals.

A Day in the Life of someone going through PTSD

Re-experiencing symptoms might disrupt a person’s daily routine. The symptoms may begin with the individual’s own ideas and feelings. Re-experiencing symptoms can also be triggered by words, things, or settings that serve as reminders of the incident.

Avoidance symptoms might be triggered by things that remind a person of the traumatic incident. These symptoms may prompt a person to alter his or her daily routine. A person who normally drives, for example, may avoid driving or riding in a car following a terrible automobile accident.

Instead of being triggered by items that remind one of the traumatic experiences, arousal symptoms are frequently continuous. These symptoms might cause a person to become agitated and irritated. They may make it difficult to do daily chores such as sleeping, eating, and concentrating. 

Individuals suffering from PTSD may be irritable and may engage in violent verbal and/or physical conduct with little or no provocation (e.g., yelling at people, getting into fights, destroying objects). They may also engage in risky or self-destructive conduct, such as risky driving, excessive alcohol or drug use, or self-injurious or suicidal behaviour. PTSD is frequently characterised by heightened sensitivity to possible risks, both those linked to the traumatic experience and those that are unrelated to the traumatic event. Individuals suffering from PTSD may be overly sensitive to unexpected stimuli, exhibiting a heightened startle reaction or jumpiness in response to loud noises or sudden movements. Concentration problems, such as trouble recalling everyday occurrences or responding to concentrated work, are typical complaints.

Cognition and mood symptoms might develop or worsen after a stressful incident, but they are not caused by injury or substance abuse. These symptoms might cause a person to feel alienated or distant from friends and family. 

Language loss in young children is one example of developmental regression. Auditory pseudo-hallucinations, such as the sensory sensation of hearing one’s own ideas uttered in one or more other voices, as well as paranoid ideation, can occur. Following a series of protracted, repetitive, and severe traumatic events (e.g., childhood abuse, torture), the individual may develop trouble regulating emotions or sustaining stable interpersonal connections, as well as dissociative symptoms. When a traumatic incident results in a violent death, both troublesome grief and PTSD symptoms may be present.

The likelihood of PTSD start and severity may range between cultural groups due to differences in the type of traumatic exposure, the influence of the meaning assigned to the traumatic event on disorder severity, the ongoing sociocultural environment, and other cultural variables.


PTSD Therapy

The objective of PTSD therapy is to minimise mental and physical symptoms, enhance everyday functioning, and assist the individual in better coping with the experience that precipitated the disease. Psychotherapy (a sort of counselling) or medicine, or both, may be used to treat PTSD.

Antidepressants can alleviate sadness and anxiety symptoms. They can also aid with sleep issues and attention. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorised the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) drugs sertraline (Zoloft) and paroxetine (Paxil) for the treatment of PTSD. Divalproex (Depakote) and lamotrigine are mood stabilisers (Lamictal). Aripiprazole (Abilify) and quetiapine are examples of atypical antipsychotics (Seroquel).

Psychotherapy for PTSD include assisting the patient in learning skills to manage symptoms and establish coping mechanisms. Therapy also seeks to educate the individual and their family about the illness, as well as to assist the individual in working through the concerns linked with the traumatic experience. Cognitive therapy assists people in recognising the ways of thinking (cognitive patterns) that are holding them trapped, such as negative views about themselves and the danger of traumatic events reoccurring. Cognitive therapy is frequently used in conjunction with exposure treatment to treat PTSD.

Behavioral therapy entails reliving the traumatic experience or exposing the person to things or circumstances that create anxiety. This is carried out in a well-controlled and secure setting. Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing combines exposure treatment with a sequence of guided eye movements to assist patients in processing painful memories and changing their reactions to them.

PTSD recovery is a lengthy and continuing process. PTSD symptoms seldom go away completely, but treatment can help patients learn to manage them more successfully. Treatment can result in fewer and less severe symptoms, as well as an improved capacity to handle trauma-related feelings

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