Understanding PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, happens after a traumatic event which has put the sufferer’s physical life or physical integrity under threat.

By Delphine Caubet

During this traumatic event, the person has experienced feelings of extreme fear and powerlessness.

The most famous cases involve soldiers back from battle. But victims of criminal acts can also suffer from PTSD. Confronted with the same event, women suffer this affliction more than do men.

The exact causes are not yet clear.

People afflicted relive the same traumatizing event again and again. Whether it be a car accident, a sexual assault…

Their brains are always on alert status, as if their life is constantly in danger, even if it’s not.

Other pathologies go along with PTSD. Patients often suffer from depression, anxiety, sexual problems, drug abuse, etc.

The use of drugs as an escape is a recurring element among victims wanting to get away from their feelings of fear. But, in the long term, these substances only accentuate anxiety and depression.

Symptoms may not arise until weeks or even months after the traumatic event. A trigger may be involved (an anniversary of the trauma, a retirement, etc.).

PTSD sufferers generally want things to “go back to the way they were before.” They want to suppress their memories, which is impossible.

It’s necessary to consult a health care professional to try and find a new balance. One patient out of two recovers fully within about two years.

For the rest, they remain chronic PTSD sufferers.

First seen in: Reflet de Société, Vol. 27, no. 1, printemps (spring) 2019, page 13.

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