The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) states that roughly 7 or 8 out of every 100 people will experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at some point in their lives. About 8 million adults have PTSD in a year. While not a large percentage of the population struggles with the condition, those who have it might find unusual symptoms occurring and wonder what is happening. Read on to learn about the correlation between PTSD, seizures, and psychosis.
What Is PTSD?
Post-traumatic stress disorder, defined by the American Psychiatric Association, is a disorder that occurs in people who have witnessed a traumatic shock. It affects roughly 3.5 percent of adults in the U.S. It is estimated that one in 11 people are diagnosed with PTSD in their lifetime.
Exposure to traumatic events can happen firsthand or indirectly. People with a PTSD diagnosis can have disturbing and intense thoughts and feelings related to the event. Flashbacks and nightmares are common with PTSD-diagnosed people.
People with PTSD who experienced a head injury related to an incident that caused the disorder might also experience physical symptoms that resemble seizures and possible psychosis.
Read on to learn how these three are tied together.
PTSD And Seizures
Someone who has been in a vehicle accident can be diagnosed with PTSD and/or traumatic brain injury (TBI) resulting from the blunt force of the crash. Active duty service members, and those who’ve served in combat, as well as retired service personnel, are also likely candidates for PTSD and TBI. Older people and children who fall and bump their heads on a hard surface could also be diagnosed with TBI.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines traumatic brain injury as “a disruption in the normal function of the brain that can be caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head, or penetrating head injury.” Data from 2014 indicates that there were 2.53 million TBI-related emergency room visits.
Symptoms of TBI include seizures or convulsions. Listed below are symptoms of TBI:
- A headache that worsens and does not go away
- Repeated vomiting or nausea
- Feeling weak, numb, or noticing decreased coordination
- Feeling and looking very drowsy and having a hard time waking up
- Repeated vomiting or nausea
- One pupil of the eye (the black part in the middle of the eye) is larger than the other one
- Slurred speech
- Having convulsions or seizures
- Increased agitation, confusion, restlessness
- Failure to recognize people or places
- Unusual behavior
- Lose consciousness
Those with PTSD who have a seizure are experiencing what is called a pseudoseizure. These types of seizures are usually the result of other mental health conditions, such as PTSD.
Symptoms of a pseudoseizure may include:
- Involuntary muscle stiffening, convulsing and jerking
- Loss of attention
- Loss of consciousness
- Falling down
- Staring blankly
- Lack of awareness of surroundings
Medical News Today reports that the causes for a pseudoseizure are related to severe psychological stress. The stress may be due to a single traumatic event, or to an underlying chronic condition.
Seizures can also result from a traumatic, violent knock to the head, such as hitting your head hard on the windshield during a vehicle accident or from repeated blasts from combat that rattle the brain inside the head. Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a diagnosis that can stem from these sorts of injuries. Seizures can stem from TBI.
The Veterans Administration reports that “the relationship among traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, and seizures indicates that Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan diagnosed with seizures are more likely to also have suffered TBI, PTSD, or both.”
PTSD And Psychosis
Psychosis is another symptom of PTSD. It is not uncommon for people with PTSD to experience psychotic symptoms.
A study from Canada found that a little more than 50 percent of the people who said they had PTSD at some time in their life also said they experienced a positive psychotic symptom. These are indicated by the existence of unusual feelings, thoughts, or behaviors, as VeryWellMind relays.
A psychotic symptom can be:
- Believing that people are spying on you or following you
- Thinking you see something that others do not
- Feeling like you are inside or outside of your body. An example would be feeling like someone touched you, but no one is there
- Believing you can hear what someone is thinking
- Believing you can smell strange smells and be bothered by them when no one else can smell them
- Believing that another power or force controls your behaviors and thoughts
- Flashbacks and dissociation are also common with PTSD.
It is not uncommon for veterans with PTSD to experience one or a few symptoms of psychosis. A report from the National Center for PTSD states that “the presence of psychotic symptoms in PTSD is associated with a more severe level of psychopathology, similar to that of chronic schizophrenia.”
About 30 to 40 percent of veterans have experienced a visual or auditory hallucination.
People with PTSD who have reported psychotic symptoms could be more likely to be suicidal or have greater overall stress. They also could be more prone to using alcohol, marijuana, or drugs to alleviate the symptoms. This, in turn, can lead to detrimental actions that could bring harm to themselves or others.
If you or someone you know is struggling with PTSD and its associated symptoms, we can help. Our qualified and experienced team of clinical and psychological professionals can help get you or your loved one back on track through medical and/or holistic therapy approaches.
The most common therapy approaches for PTSD include:
- Cognitive processing therapy (CPT)
- Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)
- Prolonged exposure therapy (PE); and
- Stress inoculation training (SIT).
We work with you to determine the best approach to help you obtain long-lasting results. Don’t wait any longer to get help today.