What is PTSD? Experts on the symptoms, treatment and causes as Japan's ex-princess Mako shows it can strike anyone

an outstanding 4 million yen (US$36,000) loan, those living through the coronavirus pandemic, eye movement desensitisation reprocessing [EMDR, sexual abuse, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, here

As Japan’s ex-princess Mako shows us, mental illness can strike anyone, no matter how rich or famous.

Mako married her commoner boyfriend Kei Komuro on October 26, not before the palace announced that she had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), hoping to halt the frenzied media coverage of the couple’s complex relationship.

The media interest involved a long-running controversy over an outstanding 4 million yen (US$36,000) loan to Komuro’s mother from her former fiancé, borrowed to pay the costs of his university education.

Komuro also caused a furore when he arrived back in Japan from the US for the wedding sporting a ponytail – with critics bashing his hairstyle as unsuitable for a man about to marry a princess.

The pressure from the intense media scrutiny over the four years leading up to their nuptials took a toll on Mako, who has since moved to New York with her new husband to dodge the limelight.

an outstanding 4 million yen (US$36,000) loan, those living through the coronavirus pandemic, eye movement desensitisation reprocessing [EMDR, sexual abuse, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, here

Mako (left) and her husband head to their flight to New York on November 14, 2021. Photo: AFP

PTSD can affect anyone, not only celebrities hounded by reporters. It is commonly diagnosed in war veterans who have suffered or witnessed horrors on the battlefield, but anyone who has experienced a shocking, scary or dangerous event is susceptible – including those living through the coronavirus pandemic.

Here is what you need to know about the debilitating condition.

What is PTSD?

Triggered by a terrifying event – either experiencing it or witnessing it – this mental health condition’s symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about what took place. Witnessing a traumatic event affecting others may cause it.

“PTSD is when one experiences or witnesses a traumatic incident, be it a physical injury, sexual assault or other types of a perceived threat, so that the person continues to suffer negative effects long after the incident has passed,” explains David Liu, a mental health therapist in Hong Kong.

Complex PTSD is exposure to trauma, sometimes repeatedly and for long durations, usually during the first 15 years of life, such as emotional neglect, humiliation, bullying, violence, anger and disrupted attachment issues during development. With PTSD, the effects continue to have an impact on the person’s thoughts, actions, relationships, self-image and outlook for the future, Liu says.

an outstanding 4 million yen (US$36,000) loan, those living through the coronavirus pandemic, eye movement desensitisation reprocessing [EMDR, sexual abuse, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, here

David Liu is a mental health therapist in Hong Kong. Photo: Courtesy of David Liu

How do you identify PTSD in yourself or someone you care about?

Watch for a persistent and significant change in behaviour, mood and personality after a traumatic event, such as becoming easily enraged or more impatient than usual.

“Other symptoms are when that person becomes more socially withdrawn, keeps cancelling on dates, stops going in to work and seems disengaged when with others,” says Dr Elisabeth Wong, a Hong Kong specialist in psychiatry.

“If they also start drinking more or using drugs, this might be a maladaptive way for them to cope with the distressing feelings. In severe cases, there could be acts of self-harm and even suicide.”

How is PTSD treated?

“PTSD can be treated effectively with evidence-based treatments alone such as cognitive processing therapy [CPT], prolonged exposure [PE] therapy and eye movement desensitisation reprocessing [EMDR], or prescribed antidepressants in combination with therapy,” says Liu.

“The combination of treatment can reduce depression and anxiety, quiet thoughts that get stuck, and allow the person to sleep – it helps calm sadness, agitation and fear when therapy is difficult.”

However, psychiatric medication is needed in more severe and persistent cases explains Wong, such as for those with coexisting mood disorders, or alcohol and substance abuse. Common medications include SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) which reduces anxiety and depressive symptoms.

an outstanding 4 million yen (US$36,000) loan, those living through the coronavirus pandemic, eye movement desensitisation reprocessing [EMDR, sexual abuse, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, here

Mako before meeting Paraguay’s President Horacio Cartes on September 8, 2016. Photo: Reuters

What are some myths about PTSD?

Contrary to popular belief, most sufferers are not war veterans and it’s wrong to believe that it only happens to those who have been through other obvious traumatic events, such as sexual abuse or violent incidents.

“Actually, most PTSD sufferers did not go to war – many are undiagnosed and suffer from complex PTSD,” says Liu. “PTSD can occur from emotional neglect with outwardly high-achieving families – these can be just as damaging as active violence is in obviously more deprived families.”

It is also important not to view symptoms of PTSD as signs of weakness or personal flaws – it affects people of all personality types.

“This stigmatised view of PTSD makes it even harder for someone to seek social and professional support,” says Wong. “The idea that the sufferers can just stop thinking about the event if they want to [is incorrect] – the re-experiencing of the traumatic memory is distressing to the patient and not under the patient’s conscious control.”

an outstanding 4 million yen (US$36,000) loan, those living through the coronavirus pandemic, eye movement desensitisation reprocessing [EMDR, sexual abuse, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, here

Dr Elisabeth Wong is a Hong Kong specialist in psychiatry. Photo: Courtesy of Elisabeth Wong

How can you support someone with PTSD?

Try to show the appropriate care and let the person know that if they need to talk then you’re there to listen and support them.

“Be compassionate and empathetic but set appropriate boundaries to protect both yourself and the person suffering from PTSD,” says Liu. “Practice good communication skills to create a safe environment – encourage the person to seek professional help.”

Maintaining a social connection is important in helping someone recover from a traumatic event, so be supportive but not too pushy.

“Be mindful of their heightened sensitivity towards certain stimuli, such as loud sounds or certain images, which might trigger them,” says Wong.

“Make regular check-ins with them even when the person may not seem enthusiastic about your approaches. When they want to share about their experience, listen without judgment or trying to help fix their problems.

“They may be resistant to receiving professional help. Arranging and accompanying them to their first appointment would help. Be patient and support their treatment, and understand that treatment takes time.”

Like what you read? Follow SCMP Lifestyle on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You can also sign up for our eNewsletter here.

News Related


Dobre wieści od Adama Małysza. Kubacki i Stoch będą trenować w Zakopanem

© FOT.EXPA/NEWSPIX.PL / newspix.pl Dawid Kubacki i Kamil Stoch Adam Małysz w rozmowie z Patrykiem Pancewiczem z TVP Sport zdradził, że Kamil Stoch i Dawid Kubacki będą w niedzielę trenować ... Read more »

Jack Grealish is failing to justify his Man City price tag

It was always going to be a challenge for Jack Grealish to justify a £100m transfer fee, a number that made him England’s most expensive player ever. But he is ... Read more »

Keep your skin looking fresh in winter using microbiome products

NEW Year resolutions and January running challenges make this month one of the most popular times for people to put on their trainers and get outdoors. But which ones do ... Read more »

Chandler Predicts Early Finishes For UFC 270

© Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC The UFC 270 pay-per-view (PPV) card is becoming increasingly difficult to predict, but UFC lightweight contender Michael Chandler is here to shed some light ... Read more »

7 False Things Every Verbal Abuser Wants You To Believe (But You Shouldn't)

© Photo: KieferPix / Shutterstock man yelling at woman Verbal abusers have a sophisticated way of having you believe their hogwash. They use a lot of emotional smokescreens, verbiage, and ... Read more »

An education: Matrics from Limpopo village mark a turbulent year

The school governing body made several pleas to the provincial department of education to request more teachers. But every request was met with the same response. © Copyright (c) Daily ... Read more »

Human remains found decades ago now tied to 1970s cold case

© Office of the District Attorney County of Riverside Linda LeBeau went missing in 1977, remains found in 1986 have now been identified as belonging to her – Office of ... Read more »

ITV Masked Singer fans all guessing same celebrity for Traffic Cone that judges haven't guessed yet

This year’s series of The Masked Singer is now in full swing, and it is already washing the January blues well and truly away. The quirky ITV singing competition sees ... Read more »

Poodle 'identified' as Keane star on The Masked Singer by fans after Christmas clue

Poodle is singer Tom Chaplin, according to fans of ITV‘s The Masked Singer UK 2022. In the latest episode of series three, Poodle dropped a series of new clues and ... Read more »

Masked Singer's Traffic Cone 'exposed' by fans after pal exposes identity

The Masked Singer UK viewers believe they now know who is posing as Traffic Cone on the ITV show, days after Russell Watson claimed to know the name. Traffic Cone ... Read more »

Ian Wright has heartwarming reaction to grandson D'Margio Wright-Phillips scoring first goal

Arsenal legend Ian Wright didn’t even try to hide his joy after his grandson D’Margio Wright-Phillips scored his first senior goal. D’Margio, whose father Shaun Wright-Phillips retired from football in ... Read more »

Criminal (in)justice: Guardians of the law fear for their safety

With corruption in police ranks, threats to whistle-blowers and high-stakes political court cases on the cards, judicial officials say they are worried about their security. © Copyright (c) Daily Maverick ... Read more »

China must brace for ‘digital cold war' with US as battle for tech supremacy heats up

China needs to brace for a “digital cold war” with the United States as the two nations go head-to-head for dominance of the internet economy. The warning from a top ... Read more »

Barcelona's Ousmane Dembele debacle proves that Uli Hoeness was right all along

© Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images Let’s turn back the clock to the ancient pre-pandemic days of 2017. Neymar had just moved to PSG, FC Barcelona were flush with cash, ... Read more »

‘I’m a Cardiologist Certified in Holistic Integrative Medicine, and This Is the Morning Routine I Use to Keep My Heart Healthy’

© Photo: Getty Images/PeopleImages Holistic heart health By now, you likely know that keeping your heart healthy is as important as keeping the rest of your system feeling good and ... Read more »

Covid 19 Omicron:Are we moving to red? PM Jacinda Ardern holding Omicron press conference at 11am

PrIme Minister Jacinda Ardern and Dr Ashley Bloomfield will provide an Omicron update at 11am today – signalling a possible move into the red traffic light system. The pair will ... Read more »

Boosters offer great protection against omicron, new data confirms. Which one should you choose?

© Provided by CNET Aleksandr Zubkov/Getty Images While the definition of “fully vaccinated” hasn’t changed, you’re not considered “up to date” by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ... Read more »

Thousands of cases of Amy's Kitchen vegan 'mac & cheeze' recalled for potentially containing milk

Food recalls are on the rise and why that's a good thing See more videos What to watch next Maya Angelou coins distributed by US Mint make her first Black ... Read more »

Teixeira Vs. Prochazka Booked For UFC 274

Glover Teixeira will defend his UFC light heavyweight title for the first time against top contender Jiri Prochazka at UFC 274 on May 7, per a recent report by ESPN’s ... Read more »

I could be internally DECAPITATED or paralysed at any time due to my ‘walking death sentence' brain condition

A TEEN has told how she could be paralysed – or even internally decapitated – at any moment as a result of her terrifying brain condition. Allesha Barnfield, 17, says ... Read more »

Is there a ‘perfect' relationship? No, so stop looking for one – it causes stress, depression and prevents you making real connections

Most of us accept that no relationship is perfect and that, as human beings, we are all flawed. However, there are still some people out there who believe in finding ... Read more »

ITV The Masked Singer: Viewers convinced Doughnuts is football legend Michael Owen after Argentina clue

Everyone’s favourite ITV show is back with a bang – The Masked Singer has officially returned to our screens. This surreal mystery singing competition is sure to wash away the ... Read more »

Berlusconi renuncia a su candidatura para la presidencia de Italia

© Antonio Calanni (AP) Silvio Berlusconi, en una transmisión televisiva de 2017. Silvio Berlusconi siempre se ha vendido a sí mismo como un ganador. Pero esta vez, a los 85 ... Read more »

'In the next hours' - Fabrizio Romano reveals Newcastle now moving for 'real leader'; he's keen

© Provided by Transfer Tavern Diego Carlos Newcastle transfer news Fabrizio Romano has revealed that Newcastle United will now ‘push again’ to try and sign Diego Carlos in the January ... Read more »

Masked Singer's Robobunny 'confirmed as Westlife star' in new Dynamite clue

Robobunny appeared to confirm their identity on The Masked Singer UK on Saturday night, with fans now convinced they have solved the case. After weeks of speculating, the latest clues ... Read more »

‘Levy is cooking with Paratici', ‘Omds' - Many THFC fans buzz over Alasdair Gold's transfer news

Lots of Tottenham Hotspur fans have been drawn to Alasdair Gold’s latest transfer claim to emerge on Twitter over a potential new arrival this month.  According to the Spurs correspondent, ... Read more »

Yuki Tsunoda Still Has Time

Officially, Red Bull’s Scuderia AlphaTauri team no longer exists solely to develop talent for Red Bull Racing. This is probably a good thing, as last year Red Bull finally chose ... Read more »

The Army's 'universal vaccine' aims to end all COVID pandemics

© Provided by CNET The Army’s COVID vaccine entered clinical trials in March 2021. Sgt. Tanis Kilgore/US Army The rise of the COVID-19 omicron variant and resultant spike in COVID-19 cases have ... Read more »

My sister shared a heartbreaking post before dying of Covid & leaving her 5 kids behind – saying she ‘might not make it'

A WOMAN has told how her sister said she “might not make it” in a heartbreaking final Facebook before she died of Covid. Rachel Hobbs said her sister Karen, 40, ... Read more »

5 Types of Manipulative Behavior That Aren’t So Easy to Spot

© Photo: Getty Images/Catherine Delahaye types of manipulative behavior At some point or another, all of us have exhibited and experienced manipulative behavior—it’s part of human nature to a certain ... Read more »

How To Watch UFC 270 TONIGHT On ESPN+ PPV!

© Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC It all goes down later tonight (Sat., Jan. 22, 2022) at UFC 270 live on ESPN+ PPV from inside Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., ... Read more »

Skromny dorobek Polaków w Titisee-Neustadt. Tak źle nie było od wielu lat

© PAP/EPA/RONALD WITTEK Jakub Wolny Trwa potężny kryzys w polskich skokach narciarskich. Jak poinformował Adam Bucholz z serwisu Skijumping.pl wyniki uzyskane przez naszych reprezentantów w sobotnim konkursie Pucharu Świata w ... Read more »

Ralf Rangnick hails Old Trafford atmosphere and Marcus Rashford impact

Ralf Rangnick loved the Old Trafford atmosphere, Manchester United’s defensive display and super-sub Marcus Rashford’s impact in the stoppage-time win against West Ham. The top-four rivals looked set to play ... Read more »

David Moyes vents frustration as Man United leapfrog West Ham on dramatic afternoon

© Getty Images DavidMoyes2201A A deflated David Moyes said he was “p***** off” after West Ham felt to defeat at Manchester United with the last kick of the game. The ... Read more »

'Yesssssss', 'Get in' - Many Everton fans 'made up' as 'great' transfer update emerges

© Provided by Transfer Tavern Newcastle’s Sean Longstaff challenges Junior Firpo Many Everton fans have been left buzzing over some transfer news that has emerged on Sean Longstaff. As per ... Read more »

Complaints about GPs triple, with focus on difficulty of getting an appointment

© Getty A young woman on a visit to her doctor – Getty Complaints about GPs have almost tripled in a year, with the “vast majority” of concerns relating to ... Read more »

NHS chief warns social media firms to 'step up' and take action over promotion of weight loss drugs

© Yui Mok Amanda Pritchard’s intervention comes after this newspaper identified examples of the product being promoted on dedicated Instagram accounts last week – Yui Mok The NHS chief executive ... Read more »

COVID-19 in pregnant women may trigger fetal inflammation

© Provided by WDAF-TV Kansas City COVID-19 in pregnant women may trigger fetal inflammation DETROIT, Mich. (StudyFinds.org) – Pregnant women are at a higher risk of complications from COVID-19, and ... Read more »

We’re All in the Uncanny Now

© Provided by Slate Nurses at New York’s Langone Hospital in April 2020. Hospitals are in crisis once more, but the pandemic is in a very different stage. Stephanie Keith/Getty ... Read more »

Luis Jara agradeció la efusiva recepción de su show en Las Condes: “Un enorme orgullo”

Una grata recepción tuvo el reciente show de Luis Jara en el Festival de Las Condes, el que fue transmitido por Canal 13. El cantante chileno se llenó de elogios ... Read more »
On free-english-test.com you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic