Mental health illnesses have been affecting humans for thousands of years. Once known as “shell shock” or “the soldier’s disease,” the condition which today is classified as PTSD is a condition whose symptoms many people ignore, often to the detriment of their own health. Don’t be one of those people.
What Is PTSD?
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a condition that happens in some people who’ve experienced a disturbing, scary, or threatening event. It’s natural to be frightened during and after a trauma, during which time your feelings trigger the body’s natural “fight-or-flight” response – designed to protect you from harm. It’s common to experience an array of responses after trauma, but most people recuperate from early symptoms naturally. If you don’t recover, you may be diagnosed with PTSD.
When Was It First Classified?
“Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has attracted controversy since its introduction as a psychiatric disorder in the third edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-III) in 1980.” The criteria for PTSD were updated in 1994 (DSM-4) and focused on the definition of trauma and the number of symptoms. After 13 years, the diagnostic criteria were revised, this time for the fifth and current edition of the manual (DSM-5).
Ketamine & PTSD
Following its original use as a human anesthetic, and after being successfully field-tested on wounded U.S. combat troops fighting in Vietnam, ketamine was discovered to have much more medicinal value. Researchers soon discovered it could lower symptoms of chronic pain and mental health disorders that didn’t respond to psychotherapy or other treatment. Though it seems serendipitous, the relationship between the continued use of ketamine and its positive effect on PTSD and other conditions is anything but lucky.
Common PTSD Triggers
- Seeing someone linked to the trauma could trigger PTSD. Someone’s physical traits could also be a reminder.
- The way you felt during the event (emotions like fear, helplessness, stress, etc.) and related thoughts could trigger symptoms.
- Seeing something that jogs memories of the trauma can prompt your symptoms.
- Odors are strongly linked to memories. For example, people who survive a fire could become distraught from the smoky scent of a barbecue.
Additional triggers: locations, popular media, and others.
Who Can Develop PTSD?
Like other mental ailments, PTSD can affect anyone and shouldn’t be seen as a symbol of weakness. Statistics from the National Center for PTSD, part of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, show that nearly eight million U.S. adults get PTSD during a particular year. It also affects more women than men.
We don’t know why, exactly, some people get PTSD. As with other mental health issues, PTSD is likely caused by a dense mix of:
- Stressful events, including the quantity and seriousness of trauma you’ve experienced in your life.
- Hereditary mental health risks, like a family history of depression and anxiety. This is especially true if you have biological relatives with mental illness.
- Inherited personality features — often referred to as your temperament or disposition.
- The way the brain regulates the chemical neurotransmitters (glutamate) and hormones in your body and then releases them in response to stress.
PTSD symptoms are generally categorized as intrusive memories, avoidance, negative changes in thinking and mood, and variances in emotional and physical reactions. Specific symptoms may include:
- Recurring, unwanted painful memories of what happened
- Serious emotional anguish or physical reactions to anything that reminds you of what happened
- Avoiding activities, people, or places that serve as reminders of the traumatic event
- Bad thoughts about yourself, others, or the world
- Being easily alarmed or frightened
- Feeling detached from loved ones
- Memory troubles, including forgetting important details of the trauma
- Always watching out for danger
- Difficulty sleeping
- Trouble focusing
How To Get Tested & Treated
To test for post-traumatic stress disorder, your doctor will probably:
- Conduct a physical examination to test for medical difficulties that could be triggering your symptoms.
- Do a psychological assessment, including a discussion of the signs and symptoms and what may have led to them surfacing. You may also be asked about your personal and family history of mental illness.
- Compare your symptoms to the criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association.
Upon clinical diagnosis, your healthcare provider can recommend a treatment plan, which may include psychotherapy and medicine like ketamine infusion.
PTSD affects millions of people from all walks of life – not just combat veterans portrayed in Hollywood blockbusters. If you suffer from its symptoms, you owe it to yourself and your loved ones to seek out professional care and the best treatment available. Soon, you may find yourself getting better. Contact us today to learn how we can help you find relief.