Stress & PTSD

We all deal with stress at some point in our lives and in many regards we need it. Stress is not an illness per se but can cause significant maladies if not managed appropriately, which is why stress is one of the world’s biggest silent killers. Stress is a feeling of emotional or physical tension often described as feeling overwhelmed due to too much emotional or mental pressure. Prolonged stress increases the risk of mental health problems such as anxiety and depression, but stress is not a mental health condition. Stress and anxiety have similar symptoms, so can be hard to detect if a major incident has not happened. Stress is cumulative, meaning that a build-up of small occurrences can sometimes go unnoticed. Reducing emotional symptoms of stress starts with reducing the origin of stressors in your life. The top five most stressful life events are:

Death of a loved one | Divorce |Moving|Major illness or injury |Job loss

Both conditions are alike in terms of symptomatology, and both require early intervention where possible. PTSD is an anxiety disorder caused by stressful, terrifying or distressing events. Stabilising emotional and mental strain calls us to hone in or zero in on the mind-body, since both the brain and body contribute to symptoms. Stress can subdue your immune system, disturb digestive or reproductive systems and elevate the risk of heart attacks and stroke. Stress affects all the body including musculoskeletal, respiratory, cardiovascular, endocrine, nervous and reproductive systems.

Stress

Mental or behavioural symptoms include

 

  • Being more emotional than usual
  • Feeling overwhelmed or on edge
  • Having trouble keeping track of things or remembering
  • Having trouble making decisions, solving problems or concentrating
  • Using alcohol or drugs to relieve your emotional stress
  • Experiencing anger and/or irritability
  • Feeling overwhelmed, unmotivated or unfocused
  • Having trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Experiencing racing thoughts or constant worry
  • Making bad decisions
  • Having problems with memory and concentration

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

PTSD is an anxiety disorder that can evolve after subjection to a horrifying event in which physical harm occurred or was threatened. People with PTSD have intense disturbing thoughts and feelings relating to their experience that last long after the traumatic event has ended. You may relive the ordeal through flashbacks or nightmares. You may feel despondent, annoyed, disconnected or alienated from other people. If left untreated PTSD can cause notable physical problems such as increased blood pressure, fatigue, muscle tension, nausea and headaches. You may not even grasp the connection between your pain and the traumatic experience, and the struggle is much more intense than with a normal stress reaction.

The main difference between stress and PTSD is the onset and duration of symptoms. The effects of stress are instant and require less time to recover, while PTSD symptoms present themselves slower and last longer. Think about veterans with PTSD (previously called shellshock syndrome): they are often diagnosed months, sometimes years later.

Research shows that PTSD entails many emotions such as guilt, shame, anger, fear and anxiety spectrum.

Symptoms of PTSD include

 

  • Intrusive thoughts
  • Nightmares
  • Flashbacks to a traumatic event
  • Actively avoiding reminders of a traumatic event
  • Memory loss
  • Negative thoughts about everything
  • Self-isolation
  • Anger and irritability
  • Reduced interest in favourite activities
  • Changes in mood

Together we can eliminate what no longer serves you; you will learn to release and let go. You will have the right mindset to move forward, freeing yourself from the wounds that marked you in the past. You are starting a new chapter in life. Once you have a clearer vision of your present, you will be hopeful of a better future. We will work on those mental attitudes and fears that paralyse you. Close the cycles of the past and see how everything begins to change in you. Life can be simpler, and more straightforward when you have the right knowledge and advice.

 

“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

(Reinhold Niebuhr)

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