Post-traumatic stress disorder, abbreviated as PTSD, is a common and debilitating mental health condition you may develop after going through or witnessing something traumatic. The most common symptoms include nightmares, flashbacks, and emotional distress, but there are many other symptoms as well.
It is normal, even healthy, to struggle with coping for a little while after a traumatic event. With proper self-care and the passage of time, these feelings will usually go away. If they don’t and only get more severe as time goes on, you may instead be suffering from PTSD.
Is PTSD Related To Genetics?
There is a genetic component, yes. However, genetics is not the only factor. In fact, after going through something traumatic, anyone can develop PTSD. The development of PTSD ultimately comes down to several biological and environmental factors, such as the following:
- Stressful or traumatic events and experiences
- Family history of mental health conditions, like depression and anxiety
- Inherited personality features (also known as temperament)
- The way a person’s brain regulates chemicals and hormones in response to stress
The following factors make a person more likely to develop PTSD after a traumatic event:
- Intense or long-lasting trauma
- Childhood abuse or trauma
- A profession or job that increases your exposure to traumatic events (for instance, first responders)
- Prior history of mental health conditions like depression and anxiety
- Prior history of substance abuse problems
- Lack of a strong social support system
Common examples of events that can lead to the development of PTSD may include the following:
- Combat exposure
- Sexual violence or abuse
- Physical violence or abuse
- Childhood abuse
- Life-threatening events (such as mugging or robbery)
- An accident, emergency, or natural disaster
- Life-threatening, traumatic, or long-lasting medical conditions
What are the symptoms of PTSD?
- PTSD symptoms can generally be split into four subtypes:
- Intrusive memories and flashbacks to the traumatic event, as well as intense reactions to anything that reminds you of the trauma.
- Avoiding anything that reminds you of the trauma, difficulty remembering parts of the trauma, a loss of interest in things, and a feeling of emotional numbness
- Hyperarousal, which includes anything from irritability, trouble sleeping, hypervigilance (being on alert all the time), being easily started, angry outbursts, and self-destructive behavior.
- Negative changes in thoughts and actions such as feeling alienated and alone, difficulty concentrating, memory problems, and feelings of depression, hopelessness, mistrust, guilt, or self-blame.
How can you treat PTSD?
Ketamine Treatment for PTSD
Research indicates that ketamine treats PTSD by binding to receptors in the brain, increasing the amount of the neurotransmitter glutamate being released. This then sets off a chain reaction in the brain that affects thinking and emotional regulation.
This means, in layman’s terms, that the brain reacts to ketamine infusions in a way that triggers hormones that help the brain create more positive emotions. Unlike other treatments, ketamine can provide this relief within hours or days of the first infusion, although it is most successful as a series of infusions.