What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

What is PTSD and what are its symptoms?

Let’s face it — talking about mental health in the Philippines is not very easy. Conditions like panic attacks and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) only come into public consciousness when they’re mentioned in the news. Take for example the Filipino soldier who was suffering from PTSD and was shot by the police during the quarantine period.

Although there are several studies on Filipinos and PTSD (such as comparing treatment-seeking and non-treatment seeking Filipinos) this condition is not widely – or comfortably -discussed in Filipinos’ everyday lives.

However, one can argue that it has been present in society and even in art. For example, Jose Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere features a character called Sisa whose life drastically changed when her boys went missing. Since then, the term “Sisa” has been synonymous with crazy because of the way the mother acted after this traumatic experience. Who is to say that she is not simply suffering from PTSD?


PTSD in the Philippines after the pandemic

In recent years, journalists have covered PTSD in relation to the impact of natural disasters (e.g. Typhoon Yolanda) and conflict and violence (e.g. Marawi siege). For the longest time, PTSD has been associated with war veterans who have undergone intense hardships or particularly bloody batters. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic, we may be getting more PTSD cases among frontline workers and the general public.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that mental health illnesses will increase because of the pandemic. Health workers, frontliners and people who have lost someone during this pandemic will be dealing with the stress and grief that can affect them long term. [https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/mental-health-considerations.pdf]

People who have also lost their jobs and livelihood during this time may also have to deal with PTSD. In the Philippines, we also have cases of Locally-Stranded Individuals (LSI), which includes students, overseas workers and the unemployed, who have been stranded in cities, living in unsafe temporary shelters and waiting for transportation to go back to their provinces.

There is also the story of Michelle Silvertino, the 33-year old single mother who lived and died under the footbridge of a highway while waiting for public transportation. This angered netizens and prompted the Government to improve on their Balik Probinsya Program.

This is why it’s not surprising that many scientists are saying that the next pandemic is a mental health crisis.

To better prepare ourselves for this inevitable reality that many of us or our loved ones will be facing, let’s learn more about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.


What does PTSD mean?

PTSD means Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. It is a condition that often occurs in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event.

Because of the trauma, it affects a person’s way of life. For example, a person may become avoidant of situations that may remind him or her of the trauma. They may also have flashbacks or nightmares about this difficult experience.

PTSD can happen to both men and women, young and old, regardless of one’s race or culture. PTSD can be the result of traumatic experiences such as wars, abuse, or natural disasters.

What are the known symptoms of PTSD?

PTSD can manifest in several ways:

  • Memories and thoughts of the traumatic episode become very intrusive
  • You experience a lot of flashbacks that are so vivid, it feels like you are reliving the experience
  • You actively try to avoid anything that will remind you of the experience, including people, places, activities, and even objects
  • You try to avoid talking about the traumatic experience
  • Negative feelings and thoughts take over your life
  • You suddenly find it very difficult to trust people
  • You have an ongoing fear, anger, guilt, or shame about the experience
  • You no longer enjoy the activities that you used to like
  • After the traumatic incident, you feel detached or estranged from other people
  • You find yourself being more irritable or you become angry really fast over the smallest of things
  • It’s also possible that you start to engage in self-destructive activities such as taking illegal substances
  • You scare easily or you become very paranoid
  • You have trouble concentrating or sleeping


How do I know if I have PTSD?

To know if you have PTSD, it is best that you talk to a mental health professional who will give you a proper diagnosis of your situation. If you find yourself exhibiting several of the symptoms listed above, that’s your cue to contact your nearest mental health center.


PTSD vs. Panic Attacks

A panic attack is another mental health condition wherein a person can experience intense feelings of fear without the actual danger. They are characterized by nausea, dizziness, and trembling.

On the other hand, PTSD is often triggered by re-experiencing the traumatic event. For example, when the person dreams or has flashbacks of the disturbing event, he or she can have heart palpitations, shortness of breath, etc.


PTSD vs. Anxiety Attacks

When panic attacks recur and become a long-term condition, they can become anxiety attacks. The symptoms should be present for at least six months before a diagnosis can be made.

The symptoms of PTSD and anxiety attacks may overlap which is why you need the opinion of a medical professional to determine your condition properly.


Can I get PTSD from emotional abuse?

Yes, you can get PTSD from emotional abuse. While not all emotional abuse can lead to PTSD, it is very possible that PTSD can develop after a particularly shocking or frightening experience. Emotional abuse can be counted as psychological trauma which can have the same effect on the body as physical trauma.

People who have developed PTSD because of emotional abuse are categorized to have the complex type of PTSD or C-PTSD.

What are the types of emotional abuse that can lead to C-PTSD?

Being treated a certain way by a partner, a relative, or even a friend can be counted as emotional abuse, especially if these things happen:

  • Your personal freedom is taken away
  • You are separated from other people
  • You are not given a right to privacy or you feel that your personal space is being taken over
  • They use threats to control or manipulate you
  • They threaten other people who are close to you
  • You are constantly being humiliated or belittled


Where do I get help for PTSD?

The bad news is that PTSD is not 100% curable. Like other mental health conditions, the symptoms can only be effectively managed so that the individual can function in his or her everyday life.

A lot of doctors recommend a combination of medication and therapy to improve the lifestyle of people who have PTSD. Meditation and breathing techniques can also do wonders to calm the mind of people who have PTSD.

Organizations like the International Association for Human Values (IAHV) that respond to the mental health and psychosocial needs of people affected by disasters, conflict and violence offer a wide range of services for people who are dealing with PTSD. IAHV teaches simple, evidence-based techniques that have been shown in 70+ independent scientific studies to reduce anxiety, depression and PTSD by 60-90%.

If you want to reach out to IAHV Philippines, simply email us or send us a message through our social media channels.





Photo by Engin Akyurt from Pexels

Photo by Kat Jayne from Pexels

Mask header

N95 / KN95 Masks: Your Questions Answered

As the COVID pandemic continues and personal protective equipment start running out, there’s understandable confusion as to what facial masks to use. What is the difference between N95 vs. KN95? Is it safe to use KN95? What is a standard/industrial dust mask vs. surgical/medical grade? What is FPP1, FPP2, FPP3?

We at  have compiled this list of resources to help everyone make well-informed choices on what masks to buy, use, or donate.

The bottom line is, with richer countries cornering the N95 market and driving factory prices up, exponential increase in shipping costs, and China tightening requirement for PPE export, what alternatives are accessible, affordable and safe?


1. The US FDA approves use of KN95 due to shortage of N95.


2. N95, KN95 and FPP2 are all similar. There are different names for different countries of origin. 


3. Standard N95 masks—classified as dust masks for industrial use—are allowed by CDC for use in health care settings.

“Most HCP caring for confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients should not need to use surgical N95 respirators and can use standard N95 respirators. If a surgical N95 is not available for use in operative or procedural settings, then an unvalved N95 respirator may be used with a faceshield to help block high velocity streams of blood and body fluids.”


4. KN95 masks are also classified as standard and medical/surgical. Standard KN95, as the equivalent of standard N95, can also be used in healthcare settings based on parameters given in #3.

Surgical KN95s have the following codes:

– GB 19083-2010 “Technical Requirements for Medical Protective Masks”

– YY 0469-2011 “Medical Surgical Masks”

– YY / T 0969-2013 “Disposable Medical Masks”

Standard KN95s have these codes:

– GB 2626-2006 “Respiratory protective equipment self-priming filter anti-particulate respirator”

– GB / T 32610-2016 “Technical Specifications for Daily Protective Masks”


5. European standard classifies protective face masks/respirators as EN 149:2001+A1:2009 and has 3 classifications:

– FPP1: filters at least 80 % of the particles measuring up to 0.6 μm

– FPP2: filters 94 % of the particles measuring up to 0.6 μm

– FPP3: filter 99% of all particles measuring up to 0.6 μm (when working with oncogenic or radioactive substances or pathogens such as viruses, bacteria and fungal spores FFP3-class respirator masks are recommended)



6. 3M manufactures BOTH KN95 and N95 masks. 3M is also one the most counterfeited.

Check your 3M N95 through:


7.  Learn how to spot counterfeit masks:



IAHV continues to distribute N95/KN95 masks to our frontline workers. As of this posting, we have distributed 33,422 pcs. of N95/KN95 masks, of which 19,390 pcs were donated to government hospitals and agencies.

To support our work, please donate:


SM Aura branch

International Association for Human Values Foundation (Philippines), Inc.

Acct #008018014976

PAYPAL:International Association for Human Values Foundation (Philippines), Inc.

IAHV Philippines Launches its First Peace Building Activity

From June 19 to June 21, 2019, The IAHV Philippines team, in partnership with the Armed Forces of the Philipines (AFP), visited three areas in Lanao del Sur, Mindanao. We conducted peacebuilding introductory workshops among the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, an insurgent group, former Maute-ISIS returnees and local government units.

It was the first time ever that these groups were together. Although the tension and uncertainty was high in the beginning, we are happy to report that it was a resounding success! The sessions were productive, the participants were involved, and there was an overwhelming feeling of hope over the three days.

Imagine what else we can do!

We’d like to share some testimonies from the participants:

“(The) MILF brothers are the happiest. They are not crying outwardly, but inside, they are crying with joy because of this camaraderie. Our troops really want this to happen again especially since our families need it” –Sommy Mangandog Panda “Commander Bangladesh”, 101st Command, Northeasatern Mindanao Front, Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)

“Before we couldn’t sleep. We feared that the military would run after us. We fear our fellow ISIS co-fighters because they want to kill us. We felt (because of the activities) that this is how to release anger in your life. It was peaceful. It can help us, our children and our families. Because sometimes we don’t know how to release and control our anger.” -“Randy”, Former Dawla Islamiah (Maute ISIS)

“We are very happy that we saw the cooperation between the troops of MILF and the Philippine Government. I am so happy! I have been dreaming of this for a long time, wherein the struggles of both sides will result in achieving true peace for all the youth and citizens of the entire Mindanao.” -Ahmad Sabilullah Lintuan, 101st Command, Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)

“I…quote from one of the commanders how he wished that his comrades were alive to see this day, to see that they have finally won peace together with the soldiers and the community. And everything they fought for was not in vain.” -Capt. Ron Villarosa, Jr. 103rd Infantry, 1st Infantry Division, Philippine Army