For a long time, medical professionals didn’t understand why people who had experienced or witnessed something violent or upsetting continued to be affected by it long after the event. We now know that PTSD is closely linked to brain chemistry. When under stress, our bodies produce the stress hormone adrenaline, which prepares us for action: to fight or to run away. Normally, after the stressful situation is over, adrenaline levels should go back to how they were. But a PTSD-triggering event can make adrenaline levels so high that the body can’t process it, or the memories of it, properly.
It’s a vicious cycle: these vivid memories keep the adrenaline levels high, producing a cocktail of unpleasant side effects, including flashbacks and nightmares. These spike levels further, prolonging the discomfort and stress.
After an unpleasant experience, it’s perfectly normal to feel shaken for a while. What’s not normal, however, is for those symptoms to persist beyond a few weeks or months. At that point, it’s crucial that patients seek care, and quickly. PTSD sometimes goes away on its own, but it’s far easier to tackle with the help of a medical professional who can prescribe the right medication or help find other therapeutic ways to cope and recover. Without proper treatment, people who find their PTSD has ‘gone away’ sometimes find it unexpectedly triggered or recurring months or years after the initial event.
The side effects of PTSD vary massively from person to person. Some people may be tense or irritable. Others will suffer sleep loss, chronic pain, or other physical symptoms. Without the necessary care, it’s easy for patients to slip into dangerous patterns of self-medication, whether with alcohol or drugs.
Most importantly, PTSD isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s often a response to a life-threatening event, which is why many people who have spent time in armed combat struggle to return to normal life. Other triggering events could include experiencing a crime, like sexual assault, living through a car accident or natural disaster, or experiencing abuse. These things may happen to anyone, and it’s important to be aware that it isn’t the sufferer’s fault if they’re struggling to cope.
The most important factor in treating PTSD is support, social care and taking enough time to recover from the experience itself and the trauma that follows it. Early intervention makes it far more likely that you’ll recover quickly from the condition, according to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. Sometimes that recovery may require time off work, which can lead to loss of pay and further stress.
If you’re experiencing PTSD due to an accident that wasn’t your fault, and there’s proof of third party negligence, you may be eligible for PTSD compensation which can help alleviate some of this financial stress. Contact our supportive, friendly team today for help and guidance through what can be a challenging and stressful process to navigate alone.