This Blog Post is dedicated to Create awareness of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, a disabling Mental Illness.
Post-Election violence in Kenya, December 2007, left scores dead, injured, displaced while others bear the physical and mental scars of sexual violence. According to Human Rights Watch, 900 women and girls were victims of Sexual violence during the Post-Election period and many cases likely went unreported.
“Women were talking about having sleepless nights, not being able to concentrate at work because they keep thinking about the rape, and let’s not forget that these women were not just raped, they were also affected just like other victims of the post-election violence by losing their homes, losing their loved ones – husbands, children – in the violence,” said Agnes Odhiambo, a senior researcher for women’s right in Africa who interviewed some of the victims.
The Garissa University attack which left 147 dead and the Westgate shopping mall attack which left 67 people dead both in Kenya by the Al Shabaab militia – the Somali terrorist group affiliate of Al-Qaeda, have caused psychological trauma to the victims’ families and those witnesses of the events. Some must be suffering silently or under professional help from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Not only such Major Traumatic or frightening events can cause PTSD, as we would learn later in the article.
What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?
Post Traumatic stress Disorder (PTSD) is a serious disabling mental illness often following single traumatic events that involve death, the threat of death, serious injury or emotional trauma such as an abuse in a relationship etc. It could be an event that is experienced by yourself or others such as your loved ones.
Symptoms of PTSD
Not everyone who experience traumatic events would suffer from acute or chronic symptoms of PTSD. Most people recover from initial symptoms naturally, but those who continue having the symptoms for more than one month, experience severe symptoms that interfere with relationships or work would be diagnosed with PTSD.
Symptoms include re-experiencing the traumatic event. Many would have vivid nightmares, flashbacks or thoughts of the events. They often avoid things that remind them of the events, For instance, those who experienced a car crush would avoid driving.
Other symptoms include; nervousness all the time, easily irritable, hard time sleeping, feeling of a terrible thing is about to happen even though they are safe, mood changes and a change in their thoughts leading to alcohol and drug abuse as a way to cope with PTSD.
What can you do about PTSD?
If you suspect PTSD following traumatic experience in yourself or your loved ones as mentioned above, seek professional help from a practitioner experienced in dealing with mental health issues, a psychiatrist, psychologist or a psychotherapist.
A type of counselling called cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) helps the patient in dealing with the problems and stress.
Antianxiety and antidepressant medications are prescribed by the medical professionals to deal with symptoms of PTSD.
Support groups where you can share your experiences and learn from others who have experienced the same thing.
Even though someone suffering from PTSD might withdraw from family and friends, you can politely offer yourself to be there for them when they are ready.
In Conclusion, people can recover from PTSD and the traumatic life event with support from closed ones and professional help.
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