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PTSD Causes a Variety of Sleep Disturbances

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PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) causes a variety of sleep disturbances within sufferers. Some experiences are so severe in certain people, even if it isn't related to combat. The disturbances are profound and nothing to laugh about according to specialists who work with the disorder.

Many with PTSD may experience severe nightmares that cause a person to re-experience traumatic events, or flashbacks, that cause much psychological and physical distress. Many symptoms include a pounding heart, extreme sweating and shaking, including severe feelings of fear. While a patient is in an awake state, various triggers can be sights, sounds, and smells that generally make the individual try to avoid various places, situations, environments, including emotions that can cause a PTSD attack.

Another symptom that is common to PTSD sufferers is hyper-arousal. The person is constantly on guard, even in sleep, to protect themselves. Irritability, anxiety, trouble falling asleep and emotional outbursts are very common. Treating PTSD sufferers for sleep disorders a few years back has been non-existant due to a lack of understanding of how the disorder effects sleep. This problem was so heartbreaking to see various PTSD sufferers deal with sleep disturbances without any further treatment available. Although nowadays, treatments are evolving and finding better ways to help people with such sleep problems that are related to their PTSD.

Prazosin, and older drug that was commonly used to treat high blood pressure, has recently been found to be extremely effective for PTSD sleep disturbances. It seems the drug helps to reduce the occurrence of nightmares. Scientists believe that norepinephrine plays a part in the brain causing sleep disturbances and nightmares. So, by taking Prazosin, it seems to reduce the levels of norepinephrine in PTSD patients.

By Tina Elliott


National Sleep Foundation



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