PTSD: Worse Than It Sounds, Yet Treatable

By Zeenat Farooq

Representational Picture
Representational Picture

What Is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is described as the traumatic consequence following a series of stressful events that happen in the life of a person upon which the person or  victim has no control and which leave the victim with a constant feeling of helplessness, shame sense of guilt, loss of emotional contact, social withdrawal etc.

Who Can Be Affected By PTSD

After any traumatic event, the feelings of helplessness and distrust are common but the memories of such events fade off gradually and the person moves back to a normal life, but if the event is such distracting that it entails some irreparable physical or psychological damage to the victim, in most of the cases, the person ends up with having PTSD.

The people who are most likely to experience PTSD are the victims of incidents of physical assault like rape victims, victims of accidents which lead to permanent physical handicap, soldiers who witness war and bloodshed, close relatives of a person who has experienced such an event. For example, parents of a rape victim or a child who has met with an accident.

Personnel of the law enforcements agencies who are among the first people to witness a crime scene, or doctors who perform post mortem are also highly likely to experience PTSD unless they have stress management and proper counselling as part of their training.

Physical, Mental, Physiological, Social and Psychological changes Associated with PTSD

People with PTSD are likely to experience the following changes in their life:

-Feeling of constant danger, mistrust, self-pity, guilt, shame, helplessness, and hopelessness.

-Loss of bladder control and toilet training is usually seen in children with PTSD.

-Feeling of fear or phobias from non-existent sources.

-Hallucinations about the threatening event.

-Loss of appetite and dis-interest in activities like studies.

-Loss of social contacts and confining oneself to home.

-Complaints about pains and aches with no real reason.

-Constant nauseating feelings.

-Sudden feelings of anger or rage.

-Loss of emotional connection with loved ones.

-Constant activation of nervous system in accordance with the event which leads to various health issues like muscle pain, high BP, heart trouble, mental disorders.

Lone Srinagar Hospital caters to psychiatry needs, though only partially
Lone Srinagar Hospital caters to psychiatry needs, though only partially. (KL file Image)

How to Get Over PTSD

The life of a person with PTSD gets “struck” at the stressful event, physically, mentally and psychologically, but the first thing that the person needs to know is that: he can move on with life just like any other person around.

The person should at the first place get rid of the sense of guilt and helplessness and prepare himself to take all the necessary measures to get rid of PTSD.

There is a huge role and responsibility of the family of victim to help him deal with it, be patient towards the person through his worst and persuade him gradually to take all the necessary measures in order to get back to normal. Some of the important things which help the person ward off the disorder are:

-Development of self-confidence.

-Prayers and meditation to help you build a stronger inner self

-Proper counselling to understand the situation correctly and approach a normal life again in the best possible manner.

-Support from family, friends and society to build the confidence.

-Physical exercise at least for 30-40 minutes per day to relax your body again and get rid of the physical trauma.

-Involving oneself more and more in meaningful activities like studies, reading, writing, engagement with social organizations or NGOs to help some needful people. This always gives a positive energy and while watching other people’s miseries, the victim can be motivated to move on from his own.

-Engaging oneself more and more with nature like going on trips to mountainous areas, hiking, rafting, tree planting. These activities always have a positive effect on the behaviour of a person, be it normal or a victim of a disorder like PTSD.

PTSD and Kashmir

Kashmir valley being a conflict hit region for many decades now has seen multitudes of victims with PTSD. Most of the people with PTSD are young innocent girls who were sexually assaulted by forces personnel without any regret, remorse or penalty which further deepens the wounds of the victims.

A number of studies conducted throughout valley on PTSD confirm that most of the victims are assaulted girls. Next in the line are people whose loved ones were either disappeared or got killed during the turmoil.

The problem with the victims of the valley is that the convicts are always safeguarded which further deepens the trouble, sometimes in the form of depressions or nervous breakdown.

Infertility is one of the major problems which are faced by valley women with PTSD with lack of proper counselling or medical facilities and sometimes boycott of such women by their families further adding to the problem.

How have Kashmiri Patients Overcome PTSD

It is very important to mention here that in spite of the trauma that PTSD patients of the valley go through, there has been tremendous improvement in these patients, at least physically and mentally, if not psychologically because these patients have been observed to adapt better with the conditions.

Constant faith in God and prayers or meditation has been seen as a very important factor in the lives of patients of the valley with PTSD and other neurological and psychiatric disorders.

In fact, studies performed on neurological disorders throughout the world, especially in Greece and the UK, have concluded that people who have faith in God and have a motivation in life are very less likely to fall prey to neurological and psychiatric disorders and if the person is already having a psychiatric disorder, the suicidal tendency seen in such patients is very less compared to others.

Tail piece

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, like most of the psychiatric disorders, can be a deep source of trouble not only for the victim or his family but for a society in general but it can be dealt with like any disease or disorder by availing proper medical support, counselling, self-help and help and understanding by other members of the society. Such people should be handled with care and patience and should never be looked upon as mad or insane.

One should always bear in mind that such a situation can arise in anybody’s life at any point of time. Also, there is a need for mass awareness and mass counselling so that we would know better how to deal with a patient of not only PTSD but ant neurological and psychiatric disorder since such patients are always looked down in our society and there are already a large number of such patients around us and if we continue to turn our backs on them, there are bound to be many more such patients in future.

(Author is a Research Scholar at Department of Biotechnology, University of Kashmir.)

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