Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is often mentioned in connection with wars and terrorist attacks. The whole world knows about “Vietnamese flashbacks” and “Afghan syndrome”. But there are also silent victims of this disorder - women victims of domestic violence, victims of abusive relationships. The manifestations of PTSD in such cases may differ from those commonly known, and sometimes we feel like we are going crazy. How to recognize it in yourself or loved ones, and how to help? The psychiatrist tells.
Can PTSD be the result of domestic violence?
Indeed, abusive relationships can lead to PTSD. One of my clients recently got out of an abusive relationship with her stepfather and is showing all the signs of PTSD. The main symptom of post-traumatic disorder - in contrast to depressive, anxiety disorders, neurotic disorders, personality disorders - it appears after experienced stress or trauma, and there is a clear connection with it. Even if these relationships are not accompanied by physical violence, but there is only psychological or economic violence, restriction of freedom - for some types of personality, they can still be a strong stress factor and cause PTSD.
What is the difference between PTSD in victims of domestic violence and combatants?
They really have a lot in common, which is why psychiatry combines these disorders into one group. But in reality, there are differences: what people had to endure during emergencies, during the war, left its mark on the nature of the injury. War is aggression, and manifestations of the Afghan and Chechen syndrome are irritability, aggression, malice. If we are talking about victims of physical or psychological violence, then this is, first of all, a feeling of fear and constant recurring memories of the experience. The client I mentioned earlier has dreams about being abused at least twice a month. Any little things that can remind you of violence, even, at first glance, not related to it, can cause bouts of irritability, anxiety, sleep disturbances.
For example, if domestic violence occurred while the abuser was using alcohol and drugs, the victim will be more sensitive to the topic. Even a single instance of alcohol abuse or drug use by a partner can cause a disproportionate reaction.
Among the "unusual" symptoms of PTSD are:
But the main symptom is an unpleasant imprint that the past leaves on our lives, a trace of the past in the present.
How can I help someone with PTSD?
First of all, it is psychological help: psychotherapy, psychocorrection, medical help, restorative measures. It is worth taking care that the body has enough nutrients, movement, fresh air. Take care of a warm emotional environment. If a loved one complains of mental he alth problems and you suspect PTSD, talk to them and help them choose a specialist.
To actively intervene with advice and treatment, in my opinion, is wrong. Thus, the circle of people involved in the problem expands, it expands, strengthens, and it becomes much more difficult to cope with it. If a loved one does not complain, but you notice that he has problems - wait for the right moment to pay attention to the problem, discuss it, suggest choosing a specialist. It's really important to look outside for help so that later on, nothing cuts into family or friendship relationships.
How do I know if I have PTSD without going to a psychiatrist?
There are several ways to find out if you have PTSD without going to a psychiatrist. The first is an electroencephalogram with computer analysis. Some peaks will definitely indicate post-traumatic stress disorder. Another way is psychological testing. If you yourself or your loved one find it difficult to determine whether or not there is a disorder, you can use such preliminary screenings before contacting a specialist - and then make a decision.