Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: Nightmare After The Ordeal

Apr 26


Michael G. Rayel, MD

Michael G. Rayel, MD

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Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a severe mental health condition triggered by a terrifying event, either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares, severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event. Many people who go through traumatic events may have temporary difficulty adjusting and coping, but with time and good self-care, they usually get better. If the symptoms get worse, last for months or even years, and interfere with your day-to-day functioning, you may have PTSD.

Understanding PTSD Through a Case Study

Sarah,Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: Nightmare After The Ordeal Articles a 28-year-old accountant, has been silently battling the aftermath of a traumatic incident that occurred when she was just 15. While jogging in a park, she was assaulted by a masked assailant who threatened her life and subjected her to sexual violence. This harrowing experience has left Sarah with enduring psychological scars.

Symptoms and Impact on Daily Life

Sarah experiences frequent nightmares and flashbacks of the attack, which intensify when she encounters triggers such as related TV shows. These episodes are characterized by:

  • Severe anxiety and agitation
  • Palpitations and sweating
  • Restlessness

The persistent distress has significantly impaired her ability to trust others, leading to strained personal relationships and profound feelings of depression and hopelessness. Her professional performance has also suffered due to difficulties in concentration and a general decline in her physical health, evidenced by poor sleep and eating habits.

Diagnosis: Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Based on her symptoms, Sarah is likely suffering from PTSD, a condition marked by:

  • Avoidance behaviors
  • Hypervigilance
  • Emotional numbness
  • Recurrent, involuntary, and intrusive distressing memories of the traumatic event

Research indicates that PTSD results from changes in brain chemistry following trauma which manifest in these psychological symptoms. According to the National Center for PTSD, about 7-8% of the population will have PTSD at some point in their lives, with women being more likely to develop the condition than men.

Treatment Options for PTSD

Effective treatment for PTSD involves a combination of psychotherapy and medication. Here are the commonly used methods:


  • Antidepressants (SSRIs): Often the first line of treatment to help alleviate the symptoms of depression and anxiety.
  • Benzodiazepines: Used cautiously for short-term relief of severe anxiety and agitation due to the risk of addiction.
  • Trazodone: Prescribed in low doses to help with insomnia associated with PTSD.


  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Helps patients understand and change how they think about their trauma and its aftermath.
  • Exposure Therapy: A form of CBT that helps people face and control their fear by exposing them to the trauma memory.
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR): Involves focusing on sounds or hand movements while talking about the trauma.

Therapy sessions provide a safe space for individuals to express their fears, frustrations, and feelings of guilt or blame, while therapists offer support and empathy.


PTSD is a complex disorder that can disrupt lives and devastate mental health, but with the right treatment, individuals can regain control and lead fulfilling lives. It is crucial for those experiencing symptoms of PTSD to seek professional help and for their loved ones to offer unwavering support during their recovery.

For more detailed information on PTSD and its treatments, visit the National Institute of Mental Health and the National Center for PTSD, which offer resources and guidance for those affected by this disorder.

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