While listening over the radio, it was brought to the notice of the public, a case of a soldier who pulled the trigger on 4 of his fellow soldiers and then ended the melodrama by also shooting himself with the gun. It was quite an unbelievable but true story and at the same time very pathetic.
This really got me thinking and then I asked myself, 'What could possibly be the cause of such act?' 'Did they have a fight or some disagreement?' Even if they had, how did it escalate to the point of using the riffle?_ This and many more thoughts led to the subject matter of this article.
As the name implies, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), also referred to as battle fatigue syndrome or shell shock is not a condition (or disease) that occurs suddenly; it occurs as a result of something(s) traumatic or scary. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can thus be defined as a mental health disorder or condition that develops or is being triggered as a result of one experiencing or being exposed to some terrifying, scary or traumatic events such as war, natural disaster, accident, physical or sexual assault etc. More so, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) brings about deep fear, helplessness, or horror etc.
At one point or the other in life, we all encounter some traumatic experiences and it is only normal to develop fear, nervousness and shock or to be afraid. This induced fear which occurs in view of an impending or potentially harmful event or threat to life and survival brings about what is referred to as the ‘fight-or-flight response’.
By definition, the fight-or-flight response is a physiological reaction that ensues as a result of a perceived attack, or threat. This phenomenon is also referred to as hyperarousal or acute stress responseref.. Furthermore, the National Institute of Mental Health notes that this “fight-or-flight response” is a typical reaction necessary for the protection of a person from harm and danger.
However, we all have different body systems and thus the way we react and respond to whatever traumatic occurrence or event certainly differs. So while some persons get over this initial reactions and results of trauma quickly and naturally, some persons do not, they let these traumatic effects linger and persist in their minds. Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is then diagnosed or said to have occurred in a person in such cases of prolonged traumatic effects.
Also, the Center of Post-Traumatic Mental Health points out that the chances of developing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) depends on the type of event experienced. This then implies that not all traumatic events can lead to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
It is worthy of note that most people who experience traumatic events do not develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and in the same vein not every person with PTSD has it because of a dangerous or scary event ref.; some cases, like the sudden and unexpected death of a loved one can also lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Studies show that inter-personal trauma related victims (such as rape cases or child abuse) stand a greater chance of developing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) while the non-assault based trauma victims stand lesser chances.
About half of people develop PTSD following rape ref
What are the Signs and Symptoms of PTSD?
Luckily for us, PTSD is not a silent-killer disease like hypertension which has no symptoms and/or signs. Silent-killer disease are those diseases or sicknesses that show no signs or symptoms. However, there are numerous signs, symptoms and indications of post traumatic stress disorder. It is then incumbent on us to be vigilant and treat such persons or ourselves early enough when the signs and/or symptoms are visible.
Referring to the scenario of the shooting soldier which gave rise to this article, I believe that if the soldier had a proper medical and health checkup, he and his counterparts would not have been dead; assuming that happened because of PTSD. As you very well know, soldiers shoot guns and engage in wars and gun battle a whole lot. This then serves as a wake up call to give soldiers proper and adequate medical care.
Research shows that the symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder does not show immediately after the inciting traumatic event rather it begins in the first 3 months after the event must have occurred. According to Mayoclinic, the symptoms of PTSD are grouped into the following groups;
- Intrusive Memories Symptoms
- Avoidance Symptoms
- Arousal and Reactivity Symptoms
- Cognition and Mood Symptoms
Intrusive Memories Symptoms
Intrusive memories simply mean re-living a traumatic event or could be said to be the act of re-experiencing a traumatic event. Some who could possible fall victim of PTSD will begin having recurrent and unwanted distressing memories of the traumatic event. Also, such person will have flashbacks, nightmares or upsetting dreams about the past event. Words or objects that are reminders of the traumatic experience could trigger intrusive members.
These symptoms are said to occur when a person begins to avoid events, objects or scenarios that serves as reminders to the traumatic encounter. It has the tendency to affect a person’s daily activity. I have a friend who was burnt as a result of gas cylinder explosion and as we speak now, she does not cook using gas cylinders. She prefers to use stove or firewood.
Arousal and reactivity symptoms
This is another major symptom of PTSD, here the person could have the problem of not always being able to sleep as well as constantly feeling tense and being easily startled. This type of PTSD symptom is not usually being triggered by events or things that serve as reminders of the traumatic encounter. When this is seen in a person who had a traumatic experience, there is a likelihood that he/she could suffer from PTSD.
Cognition and Mood Symptoms
This symptom has to with negative changes in thinking and mood. When a person who encountered a traumatic event begins to frequently and constantly have thoughts and feelings related to blame and anger, such person could like suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It also involves things like poor remembrance of key features of the scary event, distorted feelings etc.
Like earlier stated, it is only natural to experience some of these symptoms after a traumatic encounter like rape, armed robbery attack, car or aircraft accidents etc but when the symptoms and signs persist much longer, there is need to visit a therapist. PTSD symptoms can very well increase in intensity over time.
Treatments of PTSD
Good news is, PTSD can be very well treated either through counselling or medication. These two methods have proven to be quite useful in treating PTSD. According to Webdm, there six common ways of treating PSTD and there are;
- Cognitive Processing Therapy
- Prolonged Exposure Therapy
- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing
- Stress Inoculation Training
- Medications - Majorly Anti-depressants
In conclusion, whenever you see yourself experiencing the above symptoms after a traumatic event or you see someone exhibiting them, it will be wise of you to visit a therapist. Staying without treatments could worsen the issue and could possible cause damages to you just as in the case of the soldier aforementioned. Psychotherapy and medication are the main treatments for Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Craving for more? Check reference materials