Is It Ever Too Late To Treat PTSD?

Suppose you have post-traumatic stress disorder. In that case, you may avoid treatment for many reasons – you’re convinced you don’t have time to see a doctor, that you’re not “crazy,” your medical records will get stolen, or another reason. Unfortunately, most of these are false, and it’s never too late to get treated.

What Is PTSD?

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric illness that might happen in people who’ve lived through or witnessed a traumatic event. According to the American Psychiatric Association, PTSD affects about 3.5 percent of U.S. adults each year.

Know The Symptoms

PTSD symptoms typically include avoidance, changes in physical and emotional reactions, intrusive memories, and negative changes in thinking mood.

Examples of avoidance:

  • Trying to escape talking or thinking about what happened
  • Avoiding activities, people, or places that are reminders of the trauma

Examples of changes in physical and emotional reactions

  • You’re easily startled or alarmed
  • Constantly on the lookout for danger
  • Self-destructive tendencies, such as excessive drinking or driving too fast
  • Problems sleeping
  • Trouble focusing
  • You’re easily irritated, angry, or exhibit aggressive behavior
  • Devastating guilt or shame

Examples of intrusive memories:

  • Chronic, unwanted painful memories of what happened
  • You relive the trauma as flashbacks like it was happening again
  • Disturbing dreams or nightmares what happened
  • Severe emotional pain or physical responses to whatever reminds you of the trauma

Examples of negative changes in thinking and mood:

  • Bad thoughts about yourself, someone else, or the world
  • Despair about the future
  • Memory issues

Risk Factors

Some factors that boost chances for PTSD include:

  • Surviving a dangerous event and trauma
  • Getting injured
  • Seeing someone else hurt
  • Feeling horror, powerlessness, or intense fear
  • Having minimal or zero social support following the event
  • Handling extra stress after what happened, such as pain and injury, death of a loved one, or loss of employment or your home
  • You have a history of mental disease or substance abuse

Is It Ever Too Late To Treat PTSD?

By all accounts, it’s never too late to treat PTSD. Health issues like posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, bipolar disorder, and anxiety disorders can worsen if the symptoms are ignored, sometimes resulting in devastating consequences. 

Tips for recovering from PTSD

  • Seek professional help as soon as possible. The longer you delay treatment, the more complex the healing process. The first place to start is to schedule a visit with a psychiatrist or other mental healthcare professional.
  • Have patience with yourself. Recognize you’re going through a difficult time in your life. Give yourself time to lament the losses you’ve suffered.
  • Be vocal about it. It’s only natural to feel the need to work through pain after experiencing a tragedy. As a result, you may feel compelled to repeat the same story continually for days, weeks, or however long needed – and that’s not a bad thing.
  • Don’t self-isolate. Go to a place of worship, join a book club, fitness class, or anywhere else with people in attendance.
  • Develop healthy eating habits, exercise, and get the recommended amount of sleep for your age group. Being stressed opens you up to illness. A healthy diet and getting enough sleep can contribute to overall wellness, and regular exercise can reduce depression and stress.
  • Give alternative relaxation methods a chance — breathing exercises, meditation, stretching, yoga, enjoying quiet music, and spending time outdoors.
  • Join a support group to help rebuild trust in others.
  • Avoid bad coping actions like drugs or alcohol, excessive work hours, violent behavior, and angry intimidation.

Diagnosis & Treatment

To be diagnosed with PTSD, you must experience symptoms for more than a month and have significant distress or problems in daily living. Initial symptoms may appear within three months of the trauma but could also happen later and persist for months or even years. Posttraumatic stress disorder often gets paired with related illnesses, like depression, substance use, memory difficulties, and other mental health and physical issues. Your primary healthcare provider may be able to diagnose PTSD but, if not, will likely refer you to a mental healthcare specialist for psychiatric evaluation.

Treatment may include psychotherapy, self-help, or medicine.

Final Thoughts

Dealing with mental illness isn’t easy for the person who’s sick and for those in their immediate orbit. If you have PTSD or a related disorder, the first step is to see a doctor or mental healthcare specialist for diagnosis. Then, you can start walking the road to recovery.

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