Post-traumatic stress disorder
If the symptoms of an acute stress reaction last for months or new symptoms develop up to six months after the triggering experience, it is called a posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
However, PTSD is comparatively rare, which means that most people survive a heavy burden incident without consequential damage. There is an increased risk of developing posttraumatic stress disorder in people who have previously suffered from a mental disorder such as depression or anxiety disorder, and those with trauma who also experience physical injury.
Symptoms of PTSD
It is typical that the person experiences the traumatic situation again and again - in the form of nightmares, scraps of memory to the feeling of being back in this happening and all mental and physical complaints such as horror, deep despair, (death) anxiety and To undergo helplessness again.
Even similar situations or only single, in itself harmless, stimuli can rekindle this condition - a smell, a certain formulation, a garment, a television report, a door-slamming.
- The person concerned therefore increasingly avoids situations, thoughts, places and people who trigger such "flashbacks", often with the consequence that he more and more withdraws from normal everyday life.
- On the other hand, the normal reactivity dulls increasingly; the person concerned can not remember important aspects of the triggering event, his interest in activities and fellow human beings flagged. He feels distanced from his environment, is muffled in his mental reactions - can not really rejoice, nor mourn properly. The future often appears threatening or "overshadowed".
- Third, the person is in a constant state of overexcitation: he is very frightened, irritable and prone to outbursts of anger, is often restless and "supervised", has trouble falling asleep and staying asleep and can concentrate only bad.
This significantly affects the lifestyle of a PTSD patient. Many sufferers develop depression or psychosomatic illnesses such as pain syndromes and try to numb their fears with alcohol or other drugs.
The feelings of being trapped and helpless, of the inability to process what has been experienced and of being able to do something about the situation, as well as diffuse feelings of guilt, are particularly troubling for those affected - not least because the rate of suicide is probably also increased.
The "escape situation" is also reflected in the body functions - some hormones such as CRH, adrenaline, norepinephrine are increased, others like cortisol reduced.Many reflexes and the almond kernels (amygdala) in the brain, a sensitive alarm system for our perception and the associated feelings, are permanently overactivated.