Stress is one of the most important health and social problems in today’s society. Approximately more than half of the global population has experienced stressful and anxiety episodes at some point. As for the causes, they are usually attributed to various daily activities that require a higher level of concentration and responsibility.

That is why a classification of the different types of stress has been created, taking into account why and how it develops. This means that people can be more vulnerable to certain stimuli or circumstances. In this way, the most appropriate solutions can also be provided taking these same factors into account.

One of these typologies is known by the name of post-traumatic stress. It is a mental condition, which is directly related to the experience of an event that left important psychological and physical consequences . Unfortunately, it is a memory that is difficult for the patient to tolerate, and it also generates anxiety as well as stress. This topic is discussed in more detail below.

What is post-traumatic stress?

Post-traumatic stress disorder, whose acronym is PTSD, is a psychological condition that is experienced from a traumatic event . This means that people who have developed this condition have been participants or instead witnesses of situations of this type. Consequently, they have both psychological and physical sequelae that reflect the severity of the trauma.

When referring to traumatic experiences, it specifically deals with events such as car accidents, natural disasters, wars, social conflicts, violence, sexual assaults as well as personal problems such as family arguments. Each person reacts differently to situations that represent them remembering actions and decisions that had negative results. Therefore, in the future they will continually have negative reactions to stimuli that are associable or similar to the trauma that they try to avoid re-experiencing.

This is a type of stress that is directly associated with fear, it develops in such a way that it is difficult to control it, which is why it has symptoms similar to those of a phobia. This means that it triggers unpredictable and uncontrollable responses such as fleeing or fighting.

Some experts consider this condition to have variable durability, which largely depends on the patient’s ability to cope with stress. It has been proven that some individuals have greater tolerance to the stimuli and effects of traumatic and stressful situations.

The prognosis is usually positive with the possibility of a good recovery. However, it must be taken into account that some symptoms may take time to disappear ; especially when treatment is abruptly interrupted, which makes it possible for them to reappear. Likewise, it is considered that when an appropriate treatment is applied in a timely manner, it is more likely to observe favorable changes in the short term.

What are your symptoms?

As for the symptoms, it is the same as with the causes, in each patient there are similarities but also differences. However, mention can be made of some symptoms that are usually observed in most cases. They are as follows:

  • Recurring thoughts are often experienced that relive the traumatic experience. It is called revival and it is about recalling in detail the event that started the stress, it is done through flashbacks that occur in an unpredictable way.
  • Nightmares as well as scary thoughts are common in these cases. You have no control over them and they prevent coherence and fluidity of thought.
  • The avoidance symptoms correspond directly to the memories of the traumatic event. This means that the patient will try to react as he should have done at the time.
  • Patients unconsciously try to avoid places, people and objects ; that are directly associated with the traumatic experience. For example, in the case of car accidents, they stop driving or use land transport.
  • In an attempt to avoid thinking or remembering , patients increase the amount of responsibilities and activities. This is an avoidance resource to avoid thinking about what happened.
  • The symptoms of reactivity or hypervigilance, reflect the level of nervousness they feel at the possibility of experiencing the same traumatic event again. This means that they are always alert and in a state of defense.
  • The body tension and feel boggling are both common aspects of the behavior of patients.
  • there is irritability and outbursts of anger that occur in a surprising way, also there will be difficulty sleeping and maintaining stable communication with other people.
  • Moods are fickle and are accompanied by multiple cognitive symptoms. Negative changes are usually mentioned that are accompanied by feelings and beliefs that create conflicts in their own self-esteem.
  • There are memory problems due to unconsciously trying to forget the traumatic event.
  • Remorse and feelings of guilt cannot be avoided in these cases.
  • The loss in the ability to concentrate makes it difficult for the patient to be useful or efficient for certain activities.
  • There is a lack of interest and satisfaction in pursuing hobbies that previously provided these reactions.

At a physiological level, the body automatically tries to protect itself from the danger that has been detected, the system begins to release certain hormones that are associated with the state of alarm. We can also observe a considerable increase in blood pressure and heart and respiratory rate.

Symptoms generally begin to appear shortly after the traumatic event has occurred . However, it can also be the case that they take time to appear after several months or years, it all depends on how the patient will again have to face circumstances that remind them. Symptoms last for days or weeks on average, causing a generalized state of anguish that interferes with autonomy and personal life.

What are your causes?

There are various investigations that have tried to find what are the causes for which post-traumatic stress disorder develops, the results reflect that it depends on each person. That is, personal aspects as well as other risk factors such as genetics, are just some of those responsible. This means that each case depends largely on how, when, how much and why it has been part of a traumatic event and how this can affect us. 

Neurobiology can also provide answers that some individuals may be more sensitive compared to others. People eventually throughout their lives learn to adopt practices such as responsibility, emotional control, forgiveness, resolution skills as well as others; that will allow them to face situations of any kind. Trauma can precisely take hold due to the lack of these resources.

This is a type of stress that can develop at any age and in any gender, however the incidence remains higher within the female population. It should also be taken into account that having experienced trauma during childhood considerably increases the chances of suffering from post-traumatic stress during adulthood.

Similarly, patients who have had psychological conditions such as phobias and anxiety disorders are also prone . Individuals who have emotional deficiencies and lack of social support are also likely to develop this or another type of stress. Situations such as the loss of a loved one, physical injury or loss of job; all must be treated psychologically to avoid putting mental stability at risk.

Tips and / or habits to reduce post-traumatic injury

The first step in solving post-traumatic stress is through a diagnosis made by a health professional. A psychologist or psychiatrist, who has experience in mental illnesses of this type, will be in charge of implementing a physical examination and a psychological test. The symptoms that will allow the diagnosis to be made assertively will be those of revival, avoidance, hypervigilance, reactivity, and cognitive and emotional symptoms.

As for the types of therapy selected, the most common to use are talk therapy combined with medications . Because post-traumatic stress affects people of different ages in different ways, a plan that is tailored to the patient’s own needs will most likely be designed.

The psychotherapy is based on the implementation of tactics that will make changes in mental patterns and behavior . This will be done by identifying negative symptoms, to later teach the patient to control them.

In some cases, the use of drugs such as antidepressants is likely to be required Usually its administration is due to the fact that the clinical picture of the patient is considerably more serious and therefore the symptoms are more difficult to control. This is the case with sadness, anger and excessive worry; they usually manifest in abrupt changes in mood and trouble falling asleep.

Unfortunately this is a condition that cannot be prevented , but nevertheless the risks can be reduced by implementing certain changes in the patients’ lives. It is always important to have the support of close people who help them feel good and act better in the face of danger. These aspects are positive when developing coping strategies, resilience and overcoming traumatic situations.

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Alexa Clark specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. She has experience in listening and welcoming in Individual Therapy and Couples Therapy. It meets demands such as generalized anxiety, professional, love and family conflicts, stress, depression, sexual dysfunction, grief, and adolescents from 15 years of age. Over the years, She felt the need to conduct the psychotherapy sessions with subtlety since She understands that the psychologist acts as a facilitator of self-understanding and self-acceptance, valuing each person's respect, uniqueness, and acceptance.

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