When an individual experiences severe stress and/or traumatic events, it can cause deep-rooted mental health issues and even mental illness. A psychiatric disorder may emerge after a shocking or unexpected traumatic event is witnessed or experienced.

This psychiatric condition can lead to mental and physical symptoms that affect the person deeply as well as other people that may be around them, such as family and friends.

If you have experienced a traumatic event but are not familiar with trauma and its relationship with mental health problems and physical health, then it may be time to seek help from a mental health professional or a specialist PTSD psychiatrist who is trained to treat this kind of mental health issue.

Psychiatry and careful treatment of your mental health can lead to improvement across your life, including better sleep, less stress, less reliance on alcohol or other coping mechanisms, and improved mood and self-esteem.

What is PTSD?

Trauma occurs when a stressful event is experienced or witnessed. This psychiatric condition does not have to be a singular event but can take place over time or across a series of traumatic events over many years. Stress and posttraumatic stress disorder can build-up due to feelings of anxiety, horror, shock, and extreme helplessness.

There is a wide range of events that might trigger trauma and stress, for example, a natural disaster may trigger PTSD for both men and women, but for others, it could be from a serious injury that occurred in an accident, physical or sexual violence, and abuse or wartime experiences, which is sometimes referred to as "shell shock".

There are many different symptoms of psychological trauma and PTSD symptoms that can affect people. Mental health patients may experience:

Reliving the Event

This psychiatric symptom occurs when patients relive the traumatic event they experienced, causing further trauma, fatigue, and regular stress and making healing more difficult.

Intrusive Thoughts

When suffering from a mental illness like PTSD or trauma, many patients suffer from disruptive thoughts relating to the event. Memories around the traumatic subject matter may resurface and be accompanied by other upsetting symptoms. These thoughts can increase feelings of shame, stress, and low self-esteem.

Self-Medication

People who feel helpless and do not know where to seek treatment risk turning to self-medication in order to soothe symptoms. They may turn to alcohol or substance abuse in order to get through each day and push negative thoughts and behaviors away.

War-Related Trauma

This is not a symptom in itself, but many people or members of the military or a world war experience a grouping of similar symptoms due to their trauma. When the brain experiences exposure to deeply violent events such as those in war zones, signs of shell shock, stress, or PTSD symptoms may emerge.

If you fall into this category, your local veterans' affairs group may be able to offer help or connect you to a support group in your area. Part of Dr. Lee’s residency training involved helping such veterans at VA hospitals across Massachusetts, including the Brockton VA and the VA hospital at West Roxbury, affording him significant exposure to such issues and their treatment.

Traumatic stress can also lead to secondary traumatic stress disorder. When people hear firsthand accounts of trauma from others, they experience emotional duress. In the United States, more than 10 million children face abuse, violence, natural disasters, and other adverse events every year.

No matter where your trauma or stress comes from or how it presents itself, it is important to seek professional psychiatric help from a qualified mental health professional. People afflicted post-traumatic-stress-disorder may experience:

What Are The Common Symptoms of PTSD?

Following a traumatic event, a person with PTSD experiences symptoms for at least a month. Sometimes symptoms don't initially show for months, or even years, following the trauma itself. PTSD symptoms can be categorized into four categories. There is a wide range of severity within each category.

  • Intrusion: This is characterized by the intrusion of repeated, uncontrollable memories, distressing dreams, or flashbacks of the traumatizing event. In some cases, flashbacks can be so vivid that people believe they are reliving or seeing the traumatic event.
  • Avoidance: People, places, things, and situations that could trigger memories of the traumatic event should be avoided so as to prevent triggers. Avoiding memories could possibly be an option. Clients may not express how they feel or what happened to them.
  • Alterations in cognition and mood: Failure to recall important aspects of the traumatic occurrences, harmful thoughts and feelings resulting in distorted beliefs about oneself and others; inaccurate perception of the cause or consequences of the event; feelings of fear, horror, anger, guilt or shame; lack of interest in activities previously enjoyed; feeling disconnected from others; difficulty expressing positive emotions; or feeling estranged from others.
  • Alterations in arousal and reactivity: Symptoms of arousal and reactive behaviors may include being irritable and having angry outbursts; acting recklessly or self-destructively; feeling suspicious of one's surroundings, having difficulty concentrating or sleeping.

A person who has been through a trauma may not develop PTSD. Trauma-related symptoms may last for some weeks or months to work themselves out. This is a normal response to a traumatic event. It might take some time for people to adjust to what has happened. After a few weeks, stress symptoms should start to subside, in non-acute cases, ideally (the exceptions to this are cases where professionals can help the most).

How to Heal from Trauma With the Help of a Psychiatrist

Mental health professionals will have different ways of approaching trauma treatment of people suffering from PTSD. There are some known and very successful treatment methods and mental health services that PTSD psychiatrists may turn to in the course of treating your trauma.

Usually, these are a combination of careful medication and behavioral changes to help both women and men patients cope with their day-to-day life and work.

Medication

A traumatic experience can lead to feelings of depression or anxiety later on. Through psychotherapy, psychiatry often combines the skills of a therapist with in-depth knowledge of medicine which will help people cope with their stress and symptoms of PTSD.

Antidepressant medications, for example, can include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. These will often be used by PTSD psychiatrists in the first stages of treating PTSD, depression, and other related mental disorders after the patient has been diagnosed.

Prolonged Exposure Therapy

A PTSD expert might also suggest this type of therapy to slowly help a patient overcome their trauma. This treatment is a type of behavioral therapy and provides the person who is suffering from PTSD with tools and coping mechanisms to treat their symptoms and anxiety. 

Mental health experts will first evaluate their patients to ensure that any risk is minimal before they suggest exposure therapy for the PTSD condition that may work. If you have feelings and concerns that exposure to trauma may cause you mental harm, then let your doctor know, and another psychotherapy treatment aside from exposure therapy can be pursued.

Compassion fatigue scale is widely acknowledged as a course for occupational burnout. Additionally, several studies have found that it negatively affects mental and physical well-being.

First and foremost, it is important to be diagnosed with PTSD so that psychiatrists can begin to provide the necessary treatment that will work to alleviate the stress and symptoms that are affecting your life. Mental health professionals will also be able to give you practical help, tools, and accurate mental health information to improve self-esteem and make life easier as you heal from your traumatic experience.

How to Help Someone Suffering From Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

You and your loved one will benefit from understanding each other's feelings. Victims of PTSD often feel helpless and terrified. Sleep disturbances, hypervigilance, as well as feelings of fear and helplessness are most likely affecting your loved one.

He or she may feel like control has been taken away from them. PTSD is characterized by these symptoms. Your loved one will be less able to make sound decisions for treatment if he or she is stressed or sleep-deprived.

PTSD sufferers can be helped in a variety of ways. Get educated about the disorder so you know what to expect and how to relate to your loved one. Acknowledge the feelings expressed by your loved one. Stress the importance of treatment. Spend some time with your loved one, walking or engaging in some other peaceful activity. Your loved one will benefit from rejoining the world. Be as patient as you can, and show your support as much as you can.

People with PTSD feel as if they don't have control over their lives. You can assist your loved ones in their recovery by taking an active role. Focusing on healing the rift left by trauma is a good practice.
You can help your loved one spend time with family and friends. Encourage them to leave the house for a couple of minutes each day. As a step toward empowerment, you might suggest getting involved in PTSD awareness. Small actions can help someone regain control.

Access Quality Mental Health Professionals and Services to Treat PTSD

Psychiatry and psychotherapy are important aspects of the PTSD treatment team. After you are diagnosed with PTSD or another trauma disorder, you can begin to receive the specialized care that your body and brain require. Psychiatry allows for a two-pronged treatment that addresses medication and therapy needs.

As time passes and with proper treatment, you may find that your sleep improves, and feelings of stress and anxiety around the traumatic event begin to diminish. Other people in your life will also notice the benefit psychiatry will have on your daily life and self-esteem.

If you are worried about seeking mental health care from psychiatrists, you may find the idea of telepsychiatry more appealing. Teletherapy is a form of psychotherapy that takes place on secure and encrypted video conference platforms which connect top-quality psychiatrists with patients across states.

Most people feel comfortable in their own homes and find it easier to speak to a doctor, therapist, or a licensed mental health professional virtually instead of in person. Telepsychiatry is suitable for individuals who can’t miss a day at work, as it can be easily scheduled online.
This type of psychiatric treatment is also more manageable for anyone who experiences chronic pain, depression, or anxiety.

PTSD experts and psychiatrists will understand the stress and anxiety suffered by most who have PTSD and, therefore, may be open to treatment by video. Get treatment for your PTSD with Dr. Ronald Lee, MD, a trusted psychiatric expert based out of Boston.

Frequently Asked Questions

Let’s shed some light on the most common questions about PTSD.

How does PTSD affect someone’s daily life?
As a result of PTSD, a person may have difficulties in work, performing daily activities, or relating to their family and friends. A person with PTSD can often seem uninterested or distant as they try not to think or feel in order to block out painful memories.
How long do PTSD symptoms have to be present?
The symptoms of PTSD often appear within three months after a traumatic incident, but they may also appear in later months. It is necessary for a person with PTSD to experience symptoms for at least one month, as well as be severe enough to negatively affect living conditions, such as work or relationships.
How does a person with PTSD act?
PTSD is characterized by intense, disturbing thoughts and feelings that persist even after the traumatic event has passed. The person may experience flashbacks or nightmares; they may feel sadness, fear, or anger; and they may feel disconnected from other people.
What happens if PTSD is left untreated?
PTSD, if left untreated, can permanently damage the brain because of the hyper-aroused state that the person lives in. PTSD patients may also suffer from co-occurring mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety disorder.
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