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Post-traumatic stress: causes, symptoms and treatments

The disorder stress posttraumatic is one of the best known mental disorders, often see him in TV series and movies associated with characters who have lived extremely serious situations such as aggression, participation in wars, natural disasters, etc.

Although most of us have heard about it, not all of us know it in detail. Here we tell you what your symptoms are, what can cause it and how it is treated.

What is post-traumatic stress?

Post-traumatic stress is a mental disorder encompassed within the group of disorders related to traumas and stress factors.

It is related to some extreme event or situation such as an aggression or accident, whose physical damage can be treated immediately but whose mental damage requires more time to emerge and be treated. In many cases, patients continue to feel the presence of a serious and imminent threat even long after it has disappeared.

Triggers of post-traumatic stress

As we say, post-traumatic stress is caused by an extreme situation experienced in the past : sexual assault, participation in a war, torture, serious accidents, the death of a relative or close person in a violent or unexpected way, domestic violence, imprisonment, a natural catastrophe …

However, sometimes the same symptoms can appear after less extreme but highly stressful events , such as serious illnesses of a family member, unusually demanding work situations, etc.

Chronic post-traumatic stress or complex

A variety of this disorder is called chronic PTSD syndrome and appears when the situation that triggered the pathology did not occur in the past of the person at a specific time or in a timely manner, but was something continued over time.

It is related above all to situations experienced in childhood , such as abandonment, abuse and violence, although it also appears after situations of continued domestic violence, harassment and labor or sexual exploitation, kidnappings, slavery or torture among others.

Symptoms of post-traumatic stress

The symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder can be very different depending on the person who suffers them and what are the causes that trigger it.

The most common symptoms are flashbacks or the very powerful feeling that the traumatic event is repeating itself; insomnia , sleep difficulties and nightmares ; explosions of anger towards people close to or strangers; feeling of loneliness and depression ; sadness, guilt and worry.

People who suffer from this disorder often avoid situations, people or objects that remind them of the traumatic event , such as crowds, driving if they had a car accident, movies about natural or military catastrophes. They are also often alert , as if an imminent threat were approaching again, hence the problems of sleep and also concentration, often startle or avoid turning their backs on doors or entry ways, among others.

Treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder

The treatment of this disorder is based mainly on cognitive therapy , in which a therapist works with the patient to understand and change the way he thinks about the triggering event, so that it ends up causing less stress and so he can manage it and return to lead a normal life.

Another type of therapy is exposure , based on the idea that people learn to fear the feelings and thoughts that a memory produces. The therapy is based on remembering purposefully and often in the triggering event to stop fearing the thoughts about it and thus have no negative impact on the patient.

Some medications for post-traumatic stress disorder are also used. Most are compounds that increase serotonin levels in the brain, a substance whose absence or too low levels are associated with anxiety and depression.


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