There Is a New and Better Name for PTSD

by | Jan 11, 2024 | Mental Health

PTSD vs PTSI Trauma and Medical Cannabis Massachusetts

Of the many mental health disorders, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) may be the least understood. For a long time, it was believed that only military service members experienced the condition caused by a traumatic event (or more than one) experienced during active duty.

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, approximately 23% of all American veterans using VA healthcare services were diagnosed with PTSD symptoms. The VA also estimates that there may be another 7% of U.S. Veterans who suffer from the condition who are not receiving healthcare from Veterans Affairs.

The National Center for PTSD estimates that 5 out of every 100 American adults has PTSD that is not related to active duty. In 2020, the agency estimated that 13 million non-military Americans had the condition and estimated that approximately 8 out of every 100 women (8%) and 4 out of every 100 men (4%) would have PTSD at some point in their lives.

Some patients have found that medical cannabis can help moderate some of the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), specifically with symptoms of insomnia, anxiety, and depression. Certain strains of cannabis may also be effective at temporarily relieving chronic fatigue and problems with social interactions.

However, despite increased awareness about the mental health condition, there are inaccurate stereotypes about PTSD. Some health professionals are calling for a different name for the condition that may help remove current stigmas and perceptions about PTSD.

What Is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

Two types of injuries can happen after a near-death or traumatic event. Individuals can sustain physically harmful injuries that can heal with medical care. However, the psychological injuries that can occur after participating in or witnessing a traumatic event can persist long after any physical injury has healed.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a clinically recognized mental health condition. The main signs or characteristics of PTSD are a series of distressing emotional reactions and persisting symptoms that can cause significant distress and impact activities of daily life.

The symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may not resolve without mental health support and treatment. Patients who have PTSD may not recognize that they have the disorder, which can lead to emotional reactions that are unpredictable and that can cause social withdrawal, sleep disruption, and other stressor-related disorders that can last for years following the event if the patient does not get help.

PTSD Trauma Medical Marijuana Massachusetts

Common Symptoms Experienced by Patients With PTSD

People who are living with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may have a variety of symptoms that vary in terms of severity and frequency. However, thanks to clinical studies, we know more today than ever before about the mental health condition and how to help patients.

There are four primary PTSD symptoms:

1. Intrusive Thoughts and Flashback Memories

When something terrible has happened to you, the first instinct is to try to forget the event. However, a deeply traumatic event can be suppressed by the individual, but that emotional injury never really goes away until the patient gets medical support, including individual and group therapy.

Imagine you are at work, and suddenly, you have a flashback to the traumatic event. We all have random memories (good or bad) that pop-up, but the intrusive thoughts can be severely impactful. Not only does the patient remember exactly what happened (playback), but they experience physical and emotional reactions to the trauma just like they are experiencing it again for the first time.

While movies and television portray PTSD flashbacks as violent and reactive, patients often withdraw into their thoughts and relive the trauma. This can result in reactive symptoms such as shaking or trembling, sweating, feelings of moderate to severe anxiety, and a generalized feeling of being threatened or unsafe.

2. Avoidance of Situations or Trauma Related Stimulus

If you have ever been in a car accident, you may be nervous about getting into a car because you remember the incident. It can take a long time to forget the circumstances of a traumatic event. However, certain situations, sounds, smells, or visual stimuli can trigger feelings of severe anxiety if they are similar to what the patient experienced when they endured trauma.

No one likes to be in a public place when they are experiencing emotional distress. Avoidance behaviors are often an attempt to reduce repeated exposure so that patients with PTSD symptoms do not feel like they will be observed or potentially embarrassed by their emotional or physical responses.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can make some people withdraw from social engagement. In severe cases, patients may try to self-isolate at home, where they can (to some extent) have control over their environment and reduce upsetting stimuli or situations that can trigger strong emotional reactions.

3. Changes in Mood and Overall Cognition

Negative thoughts and emotions can have a detrimental impact on our mood. When someone is coping with PTSD symptoms, they can also experience chronic insomnia caused by anxiety and sometimes nightmares that take them back to the experience of the initial traumatic event.

When you aren’t sleeping well and facing generalized anxiety symptoms, mood can be variable. Sometimes, patients may be irritable or have low mood or clinical depression. This can further contribute to both self-isolation and feelings of loneliness, which can prevent people with PTSD from discussing their symptoms or seeking treatment and support.

4. Emotional Hypervigilance

If you have suffered a traumatic event, you will try to the best of your ability to prevent that experience from happening again. Trauma is an emotional injury that can create feelings of helplessness, painful memories, and fear of a recurrence of events.

Many patients who have PTSD are hypervigilant and alert at all times for any warning signs that may cause them physical or emotional pain. Something like a sound, smell, or geographic location that reminds them of the traumatic event can cause distress and heightened anxiety, even if the stimuli they are experiencing have little to do with their memory of the traumatic event.

Emotional Trauma PTSD

Acute Stress Disorder After Experiencing a Traumatic Event

Individuals who have Acute Stress Disorder (ASD) can experience symptoms that are very similar to PTSD. Distressing experiences cause both mental health conditions. However, ASD more commonly occurs in the first few weeks after the traumatic event.

Symptoms of ASD can last up to one month and present shortly after the traumatic event. However, if symptoms persist past one month or emerge a long period after the traumatic experience, a patient may have PTSD instead of ASD.

Changing the Diagnosis from PTSD to PTSI

In an effort to change the narrative about trauma diagnoses, post-traumatic stress disorder may experience a name change. It could be an important part of creating more awareness and combatting social stigmas about PTSD.

Post Traumatic Stress Injury (PTSI) is the proposed new name for the condition, and it is starting to gain momentum. If you think of the mental health condition and symptoms suffered by patients with PTSD, an injury is more accurate than labeling it a disorder.

There are many potential benefits to viewing trauma as an injury instead of a disorder. It provides hope that posttraumatic stress disorder, as an injury, can be cured with the right treatment plan and emotional support.

Compared to viewing it as one of the most recognized mental disorders, treating PTSD as an injury could encourage patients to seek effective treatments. Trauma-informed care can include talk therapy and cognitive processing therapy in a safe and controlled environment, educate family members and friends about the impact of a traumatizing stressful event, and provide better therapeutic outcomes for patients.

Military Veteran Trauma USA PTSD

What’s The Difference Between PTSD, PTS, and PTSI?

All three terms describe the mental health condition and trauma-informed care that patients should receive if they are diagnosed with recognized psychological symptoms. Recently, however, there have been some new names used by the medical community for PTSD.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

The American Psychiatric Association uses a resource called the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5-TR). This is the most updated text revision that was published in 2022 and that mental health professionals use for patient diagnosis in the United States.

The DSM-5-TR contains a description of PTSD symptoms to assist mental health professionals in diagnosing mental illness and guiding mental health treatment.

Post Traumatic Stress (PTS)

Some medical professionals have dropped the “disorder” from the name to focus more on the symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress injury. Again, the move away from categorizing PTSD as a disorder creates healthier narratives about patients who are suffering the lingering effects of a severe emotional injury.

Post Traumatic Stress Injury (PTSI)

Clinicians have argued that using the term Post Traumatic Stress Injury keeps the focus on the impact of the trauma and the biological changes that happen to a patient who has survived a traumatic event. Using the term “injury” helps patients and practitioners view PTSI as not a disorder but a treatable condition.

Trauma can affect mental health and physical well-being. Some studies suggest that patients with PTSI who do not receive support and treatment may face increased risks associated with trying to self-manage debilitating symptoms alone. Many people who are not receiving the medical and emotional support they need for PTSI may develop substance abuse issues, trying to moderate the symptoms by numbing them down with controlled substances.

In time, we may see a revised and new diagnostic category called PTSI that will help reduce stigma and approach trauma with a focus on assisting patients to develop coping skills that improve their quality of life, employment, social relationships, and self-perception.

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