Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) disables more people worldwide than all physical disabilities combined. It is defined as debilitating physical and psychological symptoms that disrupt daily life following a traumatic event such as sexual assault, child abuse, domestic abuse, war, natural disasters, serious accidents, muggings or terrorist attacks. PTSD can also develop after witnessing someone close to you experiencing a traumatic or life-threatening
Not every person experiencing a traumatic event develops PTSD, while some people only develop symptoms several months or even years after the event. PTSD is diagnosed only when symptoms last more than a month and disrupt with daily life.
Common symptoms include being easily startled, particularly when ordinary events trigger memories of the original event; experiencing flashbacks of the event or having recurring nightmares about it; losing interest in everyday activities and having difficulty sleeping; experiencing feelings of detachment from reality and difficulty relating to people; as well as episodes of extreme irritability and violent rage. Many people also experience panic attacks or other symptoms of severe anxiety.
Although PTSD is complex to treat, the good news is that it can be managed through an integrated treatment plan that combines medication and cognitive behavioural therapy. Akeso’s general psychiatry units have amassed a great deal of experience in treating patients suffering from PTSD, particularly as this is a growing problem in South Africa. The units not only provide a safe haven where patients can recover, but also help by equipping them and their loved ones to manage their symptoms once they have been discharged.