PTSD and Medical Emergencies

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) affects the brain with both psychological and physiological problems. Medical emergencies can cause PTSD, and they can also trigger symptoms of previous traumas. For instance, a Vietnam veteran might experience flashbacks after a car accident 30 years after his battlefield experiences; someone experiencing a heart attack may suffer from symptoms of PTSD long after the medical emergency passes. To fight this condition, you must understand the causes of PTSD and how treatment works, as these steps will help you prevent long-term repercussions.

What Is PTSD?

PTSD is a troubling disorder that medical and mental health professionals are still studying. They have learned that, during traumatic experiences, the brain tends to shut off areas to prioritize survival. For instance, in the middle of combat a soldier must focus on the threat she faces, not on the emotional ramifications of seeing people injured or killed; during a natural disaster, people must focus on moving out of harm’s way, not on the emotional weight of death or injury. By closing off emotional functions and concentrating on survival instincts, the brain promotes survival, but the corresponding emotions must be revisited. If not, then they may cause PTSD.

The way trauma affects the brain is similar to how a lightning strike affects a house: to protect the house, a circuit breaker will likely trip or a fuse will blow. While this act offers protection, that circuit must be reestablished or else electricity will enter the home. Similarly, trauma turns the brain off to emotional responses, but survivors must process those emotions or else they may exhibit the following symptoms:

  • Emotional outbursts
  • Sudden and persistent crying
  • Anger management problems or rage
  • Self-medication through drug or alcohol abuse with resulting addiction
  • Flashbacks
  • Nightmares
  • Insomnia
  • Emotional numbness (clinical depression)
  • Dangerous or reckless behavior
  • Suicidal thoughts or actions

Most people with PTSD experience multiple symptoms and live with a great deal of distress until they find treatment. Future traumas, even mild ones, might trigger major psychological or problems.

Treatment for PTSD

Many treatment options help people overcome PTSD. Because survivors often have multiple emotional issues, holistic care for both emotional and physical needs has become the norm. The most effective programs involve a short-term residential stay followed by ongoing counseling. The goal of PTSD treatment is to guide patients back through a traumatic experience to process the proper emotions; then they can return to normal life.

If you would like more information about PTSD and medical emergencies, then please call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline today. Our admissions coordinators understand what you are going through, and they are eager to help you find lasting freedom.

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