Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, more commonly known by its acronym PTSD, is a serious psychological reaction that can occur in someone who has suffered an overwhelmingly terrifying event or ordeal in which they faced a threat of, or actually underwent, grave physical harm. Many such cases are associated with war or some event that seriously threatened the affected person’s life or safety.

Most people who experience a traumatic event – for example a serious accident, assault, war, torture, abuse or some severe natural disaster that placed their life or safety at risk – will naturally suffer psychological and emotional reactions. Usually these reactions – involving fear, anger, shame, guilt or excessive sadness – resolve with the passage of time . A few people, however, develop the long lasting condition we now term Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

The symptoms and signs of PTSD may appear soon after the traumatic event – or they may only develop months or even years later.

Clinical Features of PTSD

The main symptoms features are

  • Being constantly on edge. This results in irritability, poor concentration, difficulty in falling asleep or waking up in the early hours of the morning. People thus affected are easily startled and appear to be constantly on the lookout for danger
  • Reliving the traumatic event through nightmares or recurring flashbacks. These flashbacks of memory can be triggered by particular events or stimuli such as sights or sounds associated with the original event. They are often accompanied by intense emotional or physical reactions such as palpitations, sweating, tremors or panic.
  • Avoiding reminders of the event. Those suffering from PTSD tend to avoid people, places and activities that are associated with the traumatic event – for example, affected former soldiers may keep away from reunions and parades, losing interest in daily life and become detached from friends and family.

PTSD can progress to depression and abuse of alcohol or addictive drugs.

Treatment for PTSD

People affected by PTSD can be helped by support, counselling and medications. Obtaining relief of their symptoms and improving their relationships, especially with their families and loved ones, is possible. Helping them to obtain and maintain stable employment is an important goal.

Several strategies are involved in the management of someone with PTSD. These include

  • providing them with a proper understanding of the condition
  • counselling, usually by a trained psychologist, with the goal of learning to recall the traumatic event without the associated distress
  • joining support groups where they can network with others suffering from PTSD
  • undertaking treatment programmes such as anger management
  • learning relaxation techniques
  • medications (these include antidepressants and anxiolytics)
  • reducing dependence on alcohol and addictive drugs

Effect of PTSD on families

PTSD has an impact not only on those actually suffering from the condition, but also on their near and dear ones. Families of sufferers may have to cope with unstable emotional behaviour and job instability. Today, there are support organisations for the families of those with PTSD.

Panic Disorder Treatment and Stress Management: The Role of Relaxation in Therapy for Panic Attacks

Panic Disorder

Using stress-management techniques can help alleviate some symptoms of Panic Disorder. Once Panic Disorder is diagnosed, stress management alone won’t cure it, but it is a necessary part of treatment.

One stress-management technique used in Panic Disorder treatment is deep breathing. Shallow breathing occurs when people are tense or panicked. In turn, shallow breathing causes physical symptoms that create more stress and can lead to a panic attack. Stopping this cycle by taking control of breathing can help stop a panic attack.

Prevent Panic Attacks with Progressive Muscle Relaxation

When a panic attack occurs the muscles are tense. The stress-management technique known as progressive muscle relaxation can help people relax their muscles at will. It is impossible to have a panic attack if the muscles are relaxed, so mastering this stress-management technique can help people with Panic Disorder prevent panic attacks.

Part of utilizing this skill involves letting go of the fear of panic attacks. If it is understood that the panic attack is not deadly or dangerous, the person with Panic Disorder will stop bracing against panic and will be able to release the muscles rather than flexing them. As a result, panic can be thwarted.

Massage Therapy, Meditation and Panic Attacks

Studies show that things like massage therapy, meditation, and other stress management techniques can help people with Panic Disorder or other Anxiety Disorders feel better. However, these techniques cannot cure the Anxiety Disorder. Anxiety and Panic Disorders involve more symptoms than stress and tension, and therefore a more well-rounded therapy to address those other symptoms is needed.

Cognitive Therapy as a Stress Management Technique

Stress-inducing patterns of thinking can be a cause of a build up of stress that contributes to the development of Panic Disorder in those who are predisposed to it. It can also cause the disorder to continue and worsen. Identifying and changing erroneous patterns of anxiety-producing thoughts are a significant part of the treatment for Panic Disorder.

Cognitive therapy is widely accepted as effective in helping people overcome many anxiety disorders. It is considered the first-line treatment of choice for Panic Disorder. It is used in combination with education, stress management, and behavior therapy, making up a comprehensive treatment program.

A comprehensive treatment program for Panic Disorder is laid out in the book by Edmund J. Bourne, The Anxiety and Phobia Treatment Workbook, published by New Harbinger Publications. Patients should seek out a therapist who specializes in cognitive-behavioral treatment of Panic Disorder. If there is no specialist in the area, patients can utilize this workbook with their therapist. No one element of the treatment in the book will cure the disorder. But applying the treatment in whole in a systematic way should yield results.

Stress management techniques can help people with Panic Disorder relax their minds and bodies to lessen stress, stop the cycle of panic attacks. However, treatment for this Anxiety Disorder should also involve cognitive-behavioral therapy, to address all of the other problems and causes of Panic Disorder.