Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Suicide Ideation (PTSD and SI) is a condition that is experienced by person who have gone through traumatic and potentially life threatening events. The symptoms of this disorder are best seen during sleep since it the most peaceful part of the day. In PTSD and SI, sleep is severely affected. In fact, it is an accepted routine for war veterans to be screened and treated for PTSD and SI. Here are examples of events that can lead to this condition:
- An attack by terrorists.
- Surviving a serious car accident.
- Sexual abuse such as rape.
- Abuse in childhood.
- Natural events such as hurricane, tsunamis or earthquakes.
PTSD and SI: It’s Different From Normal Stress
Not all people who undergo the above listed events are diagnosed with PTSD and SI. Normal stress is differentiated from PTSD and SI by the fact that the symptoms are repetitive. The person becomes over sensitized to visual or audio events that are normal to a normal person. The events in PTSD and SI take a well known patterns and triggers. Whether or not a person experiences PTSD and SI or just normal stress depends on the following factors:
- Length and intensity of the traumatic event.
- Injuries or lose after the event.
- Nearness to the center of the event.
- Quality of help and support after event.
- Personal characteristics.
- The victim’s level of control as the event proceeded.
Having almost lost their lives once, PTSD and SI patient feel a deep sense of not being in control of their lives and also those around them. Suicide ideation is when the mind of a person entertains thoughts of ending life with or without a specific plan to do so. The thoughts in SI can be loosely categorized into three:
- General hopelessness.
- Need to sleep forever.
- Actual suicidal idea.
Suicide ideation is characteristically experienced during special dates such birthdays but on the anniversary of the traumatic event. It is paramount that these dates are identified and special care taken.
PTSD and SI and Sleep
Sleep can be classified in to two: REM and non-REM zones. The Rapid Eye Movement (REM) is where deep sleep is experienced and dreams occur. In PTSD and SI, the main dream topic related to the traumatic event. This make sleep to be shallow such that the patient is not refreshed after sleep. In fact, most patients are afraid of sleeping so as not to dream and re-experience the traumatic event.
PTSD and SI: The Four Classic Symptoms
- Re-experiencing the event in form of bad memories or nightmares.
- Avoiding events that are associated with the main traumatic event.
- Numbness in that he person finds it difficult to express their emotions.
- Hyperarousal – being on the lookout for danger.
Treatment and coping
The bedroom should not have any items that could trigger PTSD and SI. Since PTSD and SI is psychological, treatment is primarily through Psychotherapy and counseling. Medication such as Prozosin and serotonin are prescribed to ease depression and enhance the quality of sleep. A combination of psychotherapy and medication produces the best results.
Family and friends play a big role in determining the effectiveness of treatment. They should be caring and understanding during the treatment period. Whenever possible, they should talk to the patient about the event in order to desensitize the thoughts and feelings.