Is PTSD a Mental Illness or Disorder?

Yes, PTSD is a serious mental illness that makes you weak and occurs if you have experienced trauma.  It is quite common to have memories that upset you post experiencing a traumatic event. Initially, you may find it challenging to carry out your routine chores like going to work, being with loved ones, having issues with sleeping, etc. 

Many people start feeling better a few months after the traumatic episode. However, if these issues continue to show longer than a few months, there are higher chances that you may have PTSD. For instance, you may find yourself dealing with the memories of the traumatic event by trying hard to avoid it. Likewise, the anniversary of the traumatic event may make you upset or show severe stigma of mental issues. 

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Also, you may feel irritated, show anger and feel helpless and may still be left upset by the combat that you had years before if you served during wartime. 

But the good thing is that PTSD is a mental health issue that can be treated with PTSD diagnosis and necessary treatment by professionals. 

What are PTSD Symptoms?

The mental health professionals check for symptoms for PTSD diagnosis. As per DSM-5 criteria, the following are the PTSD symptoms that medical professionals check for in children younger than 6 years, children older than 6 years, adolescents, and adults. 

The following PTSD symptoms apply to children older than 6 years, adolescents, and adults.

  • Going through a traumatic event. This may include:
    • experiencing the trauma directly
    • seeing others experiencing a trauma
    • knowing about the traumatic event occurring to a loved one
    • repeatedly getting exposed to the unpleasant details of the traumatic event 
  • Showing one or more of the following intrusive symptoms related to the traumatic event
    • repeated, intrusive memories of trauma
    • repeated dreams whose content relates to trauma
    • dissociative reactions such as flashbacks
    • excessive psychological distress when exposed to internal or external triggers that remind of trauma
    • physiological changes when exposed to internal or external triggers that remind of the traumatic event
  • Avoiding the triggers continuously to get rid of distressing memories or or people, places, etc that give rise to distressing feelings. 
  • Negative changes in thought process and mood 
  • Changes in the reaction linked to the traumatic event
  • The above mentioned disturbances last for more than a month which impairs important areas of functioning. 
  • In addition to the above symptoms for PTSD, the individual also suffers from either depersonalization or derealization in response to stressors. Depersonalization refers to continuous experiences of feeling detached from one’s body, feeling as if you’re in a dream. Likewise, derealization refers to continuous experiences of unreality of the surrounding environment. 

Further, you can even self-screen or your family member for PTSD. If you have been feeling worried about a host of events in your routine life, take our PTSD online self-assessment. This will help you understand your PTSD symptoms and see if you need professional help. 

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Is PTSD Curable?

PTSD is a  complex and difficult psychophysiological and psychosocial disorder to treat. There may not be any specific cure for PTSD,  but there are treatments that help in reducing the PTSD symptoms. 

These include therapies and medications that help the individuals in reducing or even getting rid of the PTSD symptoms.  

Why is PTSD Hard to Treat?

There are a number of factors that make PTSD complex and hard to treat. 

  • People suffering from PTSD experience a host of posttraumatic reactions which persist long after the happening of the traumatic event. 
  • They experience intrusive and repeated memories of trauma, avoid trauma-related stimuli, go through negative changes in cognitions and moods linked to trauma, and changes in reactivity. This makes things challenging for them. 
  • Further, PTSD may be mild in nature or extremely devastating. In fact, it can even expose individuals to retraumatization or revictimization. 
  • Apart from this, some people suffering from PTSD also have the risk of comorbidities. These may include anxiety, depression, substance abuse, personality and dissociative disorders, higher risk of suicide or self-injury. 
  • Such factors may result in psychosocial consequences like poverty or homelessness. 

Thus, all these factors make PTSD difficult to treat. That’s why the American Psychological Association has come up with certain guidelines in respect of treatments that are effective for PTSD.

Also Read:

What are the Top 5 Causes of Depression?
10 Tips for Living With Depression
Should I See a Psychologist or Psychiatrist for Depression?
Is PTSD a Mental Illness or Disorder?
How is PTSD Usually Treated?
Can PTSD Be Cured Without Medication?
How Can We Reduce Avoidance Behavior?
How to Find a Good PTSD Therapist?
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