Whether you've been diagnosed with PTSD or just want to know more, learning the basics can
be technical and overwhelming. Here's an explanation of some basic terms to hopefully make this easier?
Is PTSD a disease?- Most therapists who are informed about PTSD say no. It's a condition that's a natural response to severe trauma: a combat situation, rape, seeing a murder, etc. Better to realize that you have a problem and get help.
What exactly happens with PTSD?- When some trauma happens its too much to cope with. So the mind disconnects or "dissociates". The mind and the body are interconnected in many ways. There are different types of dissociation:
The dissociation continuum
post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
dissociative disorder not otherwise specified (DDNOS)
dissociative identity disorder (DID)
Depersonalisation disorder-This features strong feelings that you are detached from your body, or that your body is unreal. A person may also experience mild to moderate derealisation and mild identity confusion.
Dissociative amnesia-An inability to remember significant personal information or particular periods of time, which can’t be explained by ordinary forgetfulness. People may also experience mild to moderate depersonalisation, derealisation and identity confusion.
Dissociative fugue-A person travels to a new location during a temporary loss of identity. He or she may assume a different identity and a new life. There is severe amnesia, with moderate to severe identity confusion and often identity alteration.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)Post-traumatic stress disorder is not currently classed as a dissociative disorder, but people who experience dissociative distress frequently also meet diagnostic criteria for PTSD. They may experience flashbacks, reliving the trauma repeatedly, which cause extreme distress. This, in turn, triggers a dissociative, numbing reaction. Moderate to severe amnesia is common to both PTSD and dissociative disorders, as is derealisation and depersonalisation.
Dissociative disorder not otherwise specified (DDNOS)In DDNOS, each of the five types of dissociation may occur, but the pattern of mix and severity does not fit any of the other dissociative disorders.
Dissociative identity disorder (DID)This is the most complex dissociative disorder. It’s also known as multiple personality disorder (MPD) according to the ICD10, the British diagnostic manual. This has given rise to the idea that this is a personality disorder, although it is not. Its defining feature is severe identity alteration. Someone with DID experiences these shifts of identity as separate personalities. Each identity may assume control of behaviour and thoughts at different times. Each has a distinctive pattern of thinking and relating to the world. Severe amnesia means that one identity may have no awareness of what happens when another identity is in control. The amnesia can be one-way or two-way. Identity confusion is usually moderate to severe. It also includes severe depersonalisation and derealisation.
Why is PTSD still not being treated effectively if its so widespread?- Lots of reasons. Not all but many therapists don't receive the proper training. Many who do don't accept all the aspects of PTSD (ESPECIALLY dissociation). And people close to victims don't want to deal with what happened.
Can you recover from PTSD?- It depends on the trauma and when you start to get the proper help. Unfortunately for many people there's self-denial which can mean that symptoms can continue for many years. Once you start to get the proper help, there's no magic solution. Everyone's different.
Hope this helps to explain and to understand PTSD.