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What is Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

I am sure many of us have watched movies where soldiers returning from war are portrayed as violent or emotional. Those movies have given us a brief introduction into what posttraumatic stress disorder or PTSD as it is commonly called, is.

Posttraumatic stress disorder is a mental disorder that can develop after a person has been exposed to a traumatic event like a natural disaster, war or combat, rape, a severe accident or violence. PTSD is also known as shell shock and combat fatigue in the case of the military. PTSD can affect individuals from any nationality, age or occupation as far as they have been exposed to a traumatic event. Experiences like the sudden death of a loved one could also lead to PTSD.

Trauma affects everyone differently, as such people recover from trauma differently. Some people recover from it after their wounds are healed or the perpetrators are jailed while the scars of the incident continue to live on in the minds of others even after justice has been served.

People who have posttraumatic stress disorder could have disturbing thoughts and feelings related to the incident, long after it is over. They may relive this incident through nightmares or flashbacks, leading to mental or physical distress. There is usually an increased response in their fight or flight response (especially in victims of violent trauma) and may develop insomnia. They may show signs of sudden fear or anger and may be detached from their social circles. They may also react negatively to loud noises, touch or movement. They would avoid situations or people that remind them of the traumatic event.

Some of these persons may have trouble remembering the key features of the traumatic event. They may feel guilty and begin to develop negative thoughts about themselves. These symptoms usually begin early, within three months after the incident and may last for months to years, interfering with their relationships – this helps to diagnose the condition.

People suffering from PTSD can be helped. The best approach is via medication, counselling or both. Antidepressants help to control the anger, worry and sadness. There are other medications that may be used to deal with the nightmares and insomnia.

Counselling, psychotherapy can occur in a one-on-one occasion or in a group. Usually, therapy helps address the problems and triggers surrounding the disorder and the approach differs from patient to patient. Talk therapy helps them to identify the problem and understand that the situation was not their fault or helps them to deal with the guilt as the case may be. It basically focuses on changing how PTSD patients react to the memories of the trauma.

Friends and families also play an important role in the recovery process. Support and encouragement should be provided for these people. It is important that PTSD sufferers are encouraged to visit a doctor, engage in talk therapy and set realistic goals.


Health, T. N. (2019, May). Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Retrieved September 20, 2020, from National Instutute of Mental Health:

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). (2020, August). Retrieved September 2020, 2020, from AMERICAN PSYCHIATRIC ASSOCIATION:


Written by Idowu Mary

Idowu Mary is a fifth year medical student at Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti (ABUAD),She is a writer on multiple blogs and also teaches creative writing. She is the brain behind the writing outfit - Write with Mary. She is a mental health advocate, who seeks to educate the public on truth about mental health and its challenges.

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