Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD)

Photo: blackenterprise

Photo: blackenterprise

OBIKA’S wife is threatening him with divorce because the latter has lost his status as the breadwinner of the home. Pauly invested his capital in a joint business with a group of friends which turned out to be an illegal drug business.

The case is with the security agents. Terrorism consumed Sani’s wife and eldest son, and Sani has no information concerning his two teenage daughters. Kunle took a huge bank loan for an election he was sure of winning. Yet he lost.

Perhaps no mortal is immune from the vicissitudes of life. The examples given illuminate this truism. The trajectory of human life fluctuates between happiness and sorrow, victory and defeat, freedom and bondage, surplus and suffering.

More than what happens to us, our attitude is the greatest determinant out of our destiny. Daily, multitudes of mortals are exposed to various degrees of traumas.

The Oxford Concise Medical Dictionary (10th edition) notes that PTSD is a type form of anxiety disorder caused by a major personal stress of a serious or frightening event. Andrew Coleman (2006) in the Dictionary of Psychology adds that the PTSD may involve actual or threatened serious injury to self or others.

In the former situation, victims of rape, automobile or home and workplace accidents will manifest post-traumatic stress disorders. Others who witnessed the brutality and barbarianism of the various cadres of trauma will likely manifest symptoms of PTSD. The reasons are substantive in terms of level of affiliation and identification with the direct victims, the actual biochemical and psychophysiological processes that accompany such vicarious experiences.

The symptoms of PTSD include, persistent reoccurrence of memories of the event, nightmares, insomnia, guilt, irritability and grief. Some victims may entertain suicidal thoughts as well as depression.
Escalating Rate of PTSD

As ironic as it is, the fact is that PTSD may likely be one of the most prevalent types of psychological/psychiatric problems in our globe today. In the first place, it is directly connected to stress disorders which by all standards are acclaimed to be prevalent.

Consequently, ignorance is a major reason why the rate of PTSD is escalating in our globe today. For instance, many husbands cannot appreciate the depth of emotional and mental torture a pregnant wife undergoes after abortion or miscarriage. Cultural expectations and norms contribute to the escalation of post-traumatic stress disorders in our world today.

For example in most African societies, victims of rape are stigmatised, and by this expression of such a negative cultural norm, such people are further exposed to PTSD. Instead of assisting them, our society criminalises and crticises them.

They are erroneously judged as being wayward and deserving the evil fate which had befallen them. Such adding of insult to an already putrefying sore only exacerbates the traumatic situation they find themselves.

Humanity is losing in an alarming rate, her appreciation of all that is noble, virtuous and gracious. A contemporary case at hand is the attitude of many politicians and those in governance. Those who lost elections at any level are comparable to pregnant women who lost precious foetus at the various stages of cyesis. This awareness or knowledge may be remote to multitudes. In spite of mankind’s claim for development and advancement, there seems to be a discordant relationship between technological development and the advancement of humanness in our globe today. This is why our successes and happiness are transient while sorrow and suffering cling to us inseparably like our shadows.

Dangerously too, the misunderstanding and misapplication of religion in our globe today has led to the escalation of all forms of post traumatic stress disorders. From genital mutilation of females to regarding them as evil and sex objects to social exclusion, persecution and destruction of lives of infidels, religious bigotry is one of the major causes of PTSD in our globe today. The dearth of professional personnel and adequate equipment to handle PTSD is yet another reason why this group of psychological disorders is increasing in leaps and bounds. In Nigeria, the health centres that can provide professional attention for PTSD are psychiatric and university teaching hospitals, a few general hospitals, some university clinics or health centres and a few private clinics.

Ameliorating the rate of PSTD
Taking a deliberate holiday or period of rest can be beneficial to victims of post-traumatic stress disorders. Preferably it will be advisable that one moves out into a new environment. Such a change of environment will facilitate freedom of choice in diverse aspects of life. It will also encourage the evolution of fresh ideas and visions. Don’t allow the challenges of paying bills, the consequences of taking a vacation on your career or family to hinder you from using this potent therapeutic tool. Against all odds, go and rest for a while. You will experience refreshment and renewal of strength.

Engaging in vacation can be combined with involvement in physical exercise. However, this should be managed and monitored by experts to avoid unnecessary exertion that may lead to exhaustion or endangering of the victim’s already fragile health status.

Victims of PTSD can also benefit immensely from studying. This can range from reading for leisure to studying to expand the elasticity of the mind. Meditation, particularly the guided type can be an invaluable tool for those suffering from PSTD.

Effort must be made to channel the mind into thinking positive and productive thoughts. This demands a lot of discipline and self-control.

Depending on the degree of psychopathology, getting involved in humanitarian activities will facilitate the restorative process of victims of PTSD. According to De Witt Wallace, the dead take to the grave clutched in their hands only what they have given away.

Victims of post-traumatic stress disorders, depending on the degree of the disorder, will benefit from the professional services of psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors and genuine religious leaders.

Never allow the cost of treatment deter you from getting adequate professional help. Government at the state and national levels need to deliberately get more involved in upgrading the quality of psychological health services, in terms of training more professional manpower as well as provision of adequate equipment and facilities.

The future of obtaining excellent health care delivery in Africa tends towards preventive medicine and provision of quality psychological health programmes. We can learn from the developed worlds of America and Europe.

• Dr. Amaraegbu, Clinical Psychologist and Author can be contracted at

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