Post Traumatic Stress Disorder which is also called PTSD is a disorder characterized by experiencing a shocking, scary or dangerous event and failure to recover from it. Although it is very natural to feel afraid and be traumatized during or after traumatic situations, PTSD is a condition in people who carry the traumatized feelings longer than a few months and still have the same symptoms.
PTSD can happen to anyone. It does not represent weakness. Witnessing a life threatening event, combat, natural disaster, accident, sexual abuse, physical abuse, even getting bullied can cause PTSD. What happens after the traumatic experience is also a factor in developing PTSD. A person who does not receive any therapy or get social support may develop PTSD while others with better coping skills or a support system may not.
PTSD symptoms in general start soon after the traumatic event but they may not be visible or noticeable for a quite while after the event. As a person who experienced a traumatic event, you can understand what is happening if your symptoms last longer than at least four weeks and you are experiencing feeling great stress that interferes with work and family life. PTSD symptoms include flashbacks which seems like experiencing the traumatic event again. People with PTSD try to avoid situations that trigger the memory of the traumatic event.
These are only direct symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder… This mental disorder can bring anxiety, depression, drinking or drug problems, physical symptoms or pain, employment and also relationship problems as well. PTSD can change your beliefs into more negative ones, about yourself or about others. It may change you into jittery, angry, irritable and extremely alert person.
There are several effective methods of psychotherapy for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder patients. The Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) may be the most effective out of all. Within CBT, the Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) allows people to learn skills for understanding how trauma can change thoughts and feelings. The Prolonged Exposure (PE) allows people to talk about their trauma again and again in a safe environment until the memories of trauma are no longer bothersome to talk about. The Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) allows people to focus on sounds and hand movements which helps their brain to work through traumatic memories.
Your medical doctor may prescribe a medication which is found effective for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) such as fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft) and paroxetine (Paxil) may be some of the choices of your doctor. The alternative to the choice of antidepressants could be some antipsychotics like disperidone (Risperdal), olanzapine (Zyprexa) or quetiapine (Seroquel). Minor tranquilizers although could be addictive, are found to be prescribed by some doctors because of their quick relief of anxiety. In general, the medication that is prescribed will be the decision of your psychiatrist, which is a medical doctor.
There are recent studies that focus on medical marijuana for treatment of PTSD which remains controversial. During the past decade, there has been an enormous focus on using marijuana for trauma related mental problems. Many researches argue that they have enough evidence to prove the benefits. Since PTSD is seen mostly amongst combat experienced veterans, maybe the Department of Defense or the Department of Veterans Affairs need to step in to sanction the studies to get approval for PTSD use. However so far, in most studies, the scientific evidence is minimal to qualify as evidence for FDA standards. In the mean time, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs find the use of marijuana to relieve symptoms of PTSD a growing concern. However they do not conduct controlled studies to evaluate marijuana as effective or harmful treatment for PTSD.
Sanctioning of Medical Marijuana
Although it is still against Federal law, medical use of marijuana is officially legal in the state of Florida by the 71 percent of Florida voters. Amendment 2 now allows the use of full-strength marijuana for several different diseases and disorders. According to the new state law, patients who are qualified for medical marijuana must be under the care of a physician who is certified by the Florida Department of Health. There are also a few conditions who qualify patients for medical cannabis prescription. Cancer, epilepsy, Glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, PTSD, ALS, Crohn’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, Muscle Spasms and Multiple Sclerosis are the known few.
Disclaimer: The comments and suggestions in this article are intended to be helpful in developing a treatment plan with the guidance of a physician. Please consult a medical doctor about which options would be best for you. Do not take any supplements or medicine without discussing the effects with your physician. The author is not responsible for any effects or the effectiveness of these treatments.
Elif Angel Raynor, MS., MIBA.
Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern