Because of the increased focus on mental health, you may be familiar with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Perhaps you’ve heard of it as a post-war difficulty for soldiers or as a diagnosis for persons. While you may be aware that PTSD is a mental health issue, are you familiar with its stages? Let’s find out what are the stages of PTSD.
Most of us have heard of PTSD (or posttraumatic stress disorder), but our understanding doesn’t go much further. We know it can cause terrifying flashbacks and nightmares. We know that combat veterans and assault victims are more likely to get the condition. However, many of us are unaware of how this illness develops and how it may impact sufferers over time.
PTSD affects people in a variety of ways. Understanding what are the stages of PTSD can assist in explaining the condition as a whole. But first, let’s define “PTSD.”
What is exactly PTSD?
PTSD is an anxiety condition that can develop as a result of experiencing or seeing any variety of stressful situations. These events can be physically stressful. Such as an injury, being in a vehicle accident, or witnessing a natural disaster. Or being the victim of assault or sexual abuse.
People who personally experience the traumatic incident, and those who witness the occurrence. Or those who pick up the pieces afterward. Such as emergency personnel and law enforcement officials, can all be affected by PTSD. It can also happen to friends or family members of persons who have been through a traumatic experience.
Stages of PTSD
So what are the stages of PTSD? Those who do not heal from the tragedy may exhibit symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. PTSD, like any other mental disease, can make it difficult for a person to carry out their everyday obligations. It also makes it difficult to communicate with others. They may have anxiety if something linked to the incident occurs, making excursions and socializing difficult.
PTSD evolves in five stages, which will be addressed in detail below.
The Impact Phase
This stage, sometimes known as the “emergency” stage, comes shortly following the traumatic occurrence. This first stage usually happens shortly after the individual has encountered or observed the traumatic incident in question. It can last as little as a few hours or as long as several days, depending on the severity of the occurrence.
Someone who has lost their house in a fire. For example, maybe in the impact phase for a longer amount of time. But someone who witnesses a robbery may be in the impact phase for a shorter period of time. Since they can physically leave the nightmare and return safely home.
People can have some of these symptoms without developing PTSD. It’s natural to feel frightened or guilty just after a risky or stressful incident.
The Denial Stage
Not everyone who suffers from PTSD goes through the denial stage. People suffering from PTSD will try their hardest to shield or numb themselves at this stage by denying that the event occurred. Avoiding uncomfortable emotions via denial is the mind’s technique of protecting itself from additional harm by removing the high stress and worry it is experiencing.
People suffering from PTSD symptoms must cope with this stage in order for their brains to progress. This stage can be addressed with compassionate, professional care.
The Rescue Stage
The individual begins to come to grips with what has transpired during the rescue phase. People suffering from PTSD begin to accept what has transpired at this stage. They may return to the trauma site or speak with other persons engaged in the traumatic event. This may entail going to one’s house to examine damage or speaking with other survivors—all it’s about accepting what has happened in some way. However, this does not mean that the trauma has been totally processed; they are still living with the initial shock and suffering.
They are likely to suffer a variety of challenging emotions, as well as mental and bodily repercussions. It’s okay if they don’t fully comprehend their experience at this point. Confusion, worry, rage, depression, flashbacks, nightmares, lack of interest in typically pleasurable activities, and difficulty recalling specifics of the traumatic incident are all possible. It’s critical that PTSD patients embrace any assistance that comes their way during this period to avoid becoming cynical and reclusive.
The Intermediate Recovery Phase
The intermediate recovery period is defined as adapting to and returning to “normal” living. After meeting his or her fundamental safety and survival requirements, the individual with PTSD enters recovery and begins to acclimate to returning to a ‘normal’ life. At this moment, people can be humbled by the outpouring of love and support for them, or they may be disillusioned by others’ lack of care and concern for them.
Transitioning to a new degree of acceptance and knowledge of the trauma and how it affects their life is part of this short-term recovery. Healing can begin, and many people begin to experience a more optimistic view, including a plan or steps toward long-term PTSD treatment. The consequences of the Rescue stage are frequently felt at this time, and some people may have physical symptoms such as exhaustion and/or sleep difficulties, as well as stress reactions such as irritability.
The Long-Term Reconstruction Stage
When patients begin to think about the future, the rebuilding stage starts. They may be scared, depressed, or resentful of the future, and at this stage, they will confront those feelings in order to move ahead in a healthy manner. The fifth stage journey may be long, and most people relapse when they are in a present stressful environment, including triggering events.
Implementation of coping techniques and skills obtained from a PTSD treatment program is continually crucial at this stage for the individual to continue dealing with their lives.
Each stage of PTSD has its own set of challenges, and guidance through these stages is critical for overcoming and processing one’s trauma in a healthy and productive manner. Remember that you are not alone on your journey. Family members and other survivors can give emotional support, while therapists can provide more expert advice.