Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder In Seniors: Causes, Symptoms And Management
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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder In Seniors: Causes, Symptoms And Management

July 28, 2019 | Health | By Lisa Smith

PTSD or post-traumatic stress disorder is a mental problem that can affect anyone but the seniors are most susceptible to it. If you want to know why it happens, how its presence can be identified, and how it can be best managed then read on.

Causes

Seniors can witness varying degrees of trauma, like going through a divorce or losing a job. These will affect him and he will probably be feeling low for a while but he will be back on his feet soon. PTSD happens when more serious circumstances present themselves to the ageing person. In the U.S. it has been seen that men are more prone (70%) to developing PTSD as compared to women (41%).

PTSD usually happens after these situations:

  • After a person witnesses or is subject to an event that is life-threatening like seeing a military attack, a terrorist attack, or even after a car accident
  • After witnessing any form of violent death in front of his eyes
  • After an extremely stressful event like the sudden passing away of the spouse, or the child, or a close friend
  • Any form of personal assaults like rape (especially women who have experienced it in their youth and still carry the trauma into their old age) or during a robbery or maybe being held hostage
  • If he has experienced and been a part of any natural disaster like an earthquake or a tsunami where he has lost a lot – right from family to property
  • When the person is left alone and abandoned by his family for an extended span of time and is completely neglected.

These reasons cited, not everyone is affected by it even if he is coping with a depressive phase in his life. You might be more prone to it if:

  • You have had anxiety issues before and have been treated for it
  • Don’t have a strong support system in the form of family and friends
  • There have been others in your family in the past who have developed PTSD because  this is known to be genetic in nature
  • At your age when you find that your children have grown up and flown the nest you might feel so empty that you keep going back into the past and feeling depressed about it
  • Increased health issues, excessive medicines, reduced cognitive and sensory abilities can also cause PTSD at your age

Symptoms

After a traumatic incident it is normal feel on the edge, have disturbed sleep, and not be blessed to socialize normally. But if this persists for long then you should get yourself checked for PTSD. At this stage of your life you might even see the symptoms coming and going, which at times, makes diagnosis a little difficult.

In case if you are wondering if you suffer from PTSD or not, here are the most obvious warning signs.

  • Always being in guard about people wanting to harm you. This leads to an inability to trust anyone anymore. It might also keep you from attending social gatherings. All this will ultimately distance you from known friends and family
  • Getting suddenly angry over small issues and then not being able to control the anger or even be able to analyse why it happened
  • Having disturbed sleep accompanied by recurring nightmares
  • Having sudden flashes from the past that are very vivid and gives you chest pains and leads to heavy breathing, nausea, sweating, and a high blood pressure
  • The smallest of noises making you jumpy as if someone is about to pounce on you
  • Constantly blaming yourself for the mishap that you have gone through
  • The one time favorite pastimes of yours that you enjoyed – all your hobbies – they all seem to disinterest you
  • You start living a reckless life that can go to the point of self-destruction like over drinking, carrying out adventurous sports that are not for your age etc.
  • You begin to have suicidal thoughts and might even find yourself making plans of how to carry it out

Management

Many people of your age will try and manage their PTSD by trying to overwork or even use medicines and alcohol to escape from the traumatic memories. But this is not the right way to approach the issues. For example, the medicines usually given are benzodiazepines which, in seniors, can lead to dementia, heart attacks, reduced metabolism, walking difficulty, and confusion.

The best ways to manage PTSD are these.

Reach Out To Others

Reach out to your close friends and relatives who you might not have been in touch with. When you begin to talk and share with others, you will be better able to handle yourself. Don’t think that just because you have aged people will take this as a sign of your weakness. Those who know you will respect you for the step that you have taken and do all that they can to help.

Keep Active

When PTSD happens at this age one usually tends to become all bottled up and sedentary. The more inactive your mind and body is, the more the traumatic experience will haunt you. So, you should chalk out an exercise routine for yourself and also start on some activity that will de-stress the mind – like writing, painting etc.

Connect With Positivity

When you attend classes that talk about bringing back positive vibes into your life or even those that teach you meditation and yoga, you are bound to feel better. You won’t notice changes in a day, but with time, you will calm down.

Experience Nature

In this context, you should also take some time out where you can be alone amidst nature – watch the trees, the ducks in the pond, the sun playing hide and seek – greenery and fresh air will soothe your troubled mind.

Join A Support Group

Do some research and find groups in your vicinity that have people of your age suffering from PTSD. When you are among others who understand your problem, you will be able to open up more easily and even recuperate out of it. For example, PTSD might need MRI scans which scares you. But when you hear from others how they have already dealt with it, then it becomes less scary for you.

Professional Help

Contact a professional who has experience in dealing with PTSD. Getting treated on time is vital as, with age, it deteriorates further. Antidepressants can work at your age. But you should not take these yourself and you need to be in regular touch with your doctor so as to monitor its effectiveness and see that no side effect results.

Psychotherapy

When the senior tells and retells the psychotherapist of the issues that are troubling him, then he is likely to accept it. When he loudly speaks of the incident repeatedly then it turns out to be therapeutic because it desensitizes the very stimuli that was making them feel nervous and fearful.

Don’t be scared to admit that you have PTSD and this seek therapy for it. The more you let it be the more you will find distancing yourself from your family and losing a hold over your life. At your age it might even lead to heart attacks. So, please don’t waste any more time and start your treatment soon.

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