Published March 19, 2019
Dr Rotimi Adesanya
Child and Public Health Physician
roayad @ yahoo.com
In the last two weeks, the country has been faced with many losses from building collapse , air disaster , post – election violence , killings and many others . This brings about depression in the victims or their loved ones , a form of disorder called Post – Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD ) .
PTSD is a particular set of reactions that can develop in people who have been through a traumatic event which threatened their life or safety or that of others around them . This could be a car or other serious accident , physical or sexual assault , war or torture , or disasters such as bushfires or floods. As a result , the person experiences feelings of intense fear , helplessness or horror .
Anyone can develop PTSD following a traumatic event, but people are at greater risk if the event involved is a deliberate harm such as physical or sexual assault or they have had repeated traumatic experiences such as childhood sexual abuse or living in a war zone.
Apart from the event itself, risk factors for developing PTSD include a past history of trauma or previous mental health problems, as well as ongoing stressful life events after the trauma and an absence of social support .
Post – Election Stress Disorder
This has also contributed to increase in the number of PTSD . It is a new psychological study that shows that for some young adults, election has such a severe impact that it causes symptoms often seen in those with Post – Traumatic Stress Disorder .
Signs and symptoms of PTSD
People with PTSD often experience feelings of panic or extreme fear, similar to the fear they felt during the traumatic event . A person with PTSD experiences four main types of difficulties .
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1. Re – living the traumatic event – The person re-lives the event through unwanted and recurring memories , often in the form of vivid images and nightmares . There may be intense emotional or physical reactions , such as sweating , heart palpitations or panic when reminded of the event .
Being overly alert or wound up – The person experiences sleeping difficulties , irritability and lack of concentration , becoming easily startled and constantly on the lookout for signs of danger.
2. Avoiding reminders of the event – The person deliberately avoids activities , places , people, thoughts or feelings associated with the event because they bring back painful memories .
3. Feeling emotionally numb – The person loses interest in day- to – day activities , feels cut off and detached from friends and family, or feels emotionally flat and numb.
It is not unusual for people with PTSD to experience other mental health problems at the same time. These may have developed directly in response to the traumatic event or have followed the PTSD . Additional problems – most commonly anxiety, depression and alcohol or drug use – are more likely to occur if PTSD has persisted for a long time.
Many people experience some of the symptoms of PTSD in the first couple of weeks after a traumatic event, but most recover on their own or with the help of family and friends. For this reason , treatment does not usually start until about two weeks after a traumatic experience.
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