Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a treatable anxiety disorder. It is a particular set of reactions that can develop in people who have been through a traumatic event that threatened their life or safety or that of others around them. It is a disorder that develops in some people who have experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous event. The good news is that there is effective PTSD treatment.
According to Veterans Affairs in the US, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric disorder that may occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist act, war/combat, or rape or who have been threatened with death, sexual violence, or serious injury. If symptoms last more than a few months, it may be PTSD. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares, and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event. Most people who go through traumatic events may have temporary difficulty adjusting and coping, but with time and good self-care, they usually get better. If the symptoms get worse, last for months or even years, and interfere with your day-to-day functioning, you may have PTSD.
Signs & Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
PTSD symptoms are generally grouped into four types: Intrusion, avoidance, negative changes in thinking and mood, and changes in physical and emotional reactions. Symptoms can vary over time or vary from person to person.
- Intrusive thoughts such as repeated, involuntary memories; distressing dreams; or flashbacks of the traumatic event. Flashbacks may be so vivid that people feel they are re-living the traumatic experience or seeing it before their eyes.
- Avoiding reminders of the traumatic event may include avoiding people, places, activities, objects, and situations that may trigger distressing memories. People may try to avoid remembering or thinking about the traumatic event. They may resist talking about what happened or how they feel about it.
Negative Changes in Thinking and Mood
Symptoms may include:
- Negative thoughts about yourself, other people, or the world
- Feeling detached from family and friends
- Difficulty experiencing positive emotions
- Hopelessness about the future
- Memory problems, including not remembering important aspects of the traumatic event
- Difficulty maintaining close relationships
- Feeling emotionally numb
- Lack of interest in activities you once enjoyed
Changes in physical and emotional reactions have symptoms and may include
Arousal symptoms may include:
- Self-destructive behavior, such as drinking too much or driving too fast
- Trouble sleeping
- Being easily startled or frightened
- Always being on guard for danger
- Overwhelming guilt or shame
- Trouble concentrating
- Irritability, angry outbursts, or aggressive behavior
Causes of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
You can develop post-traumatic stress disorder when you go through, see, or learn about an event involving actual or threatened death and serious injury or sexual violation. Doctors are not sure why some people get PTSD. As with most mental health problems, PTSD is probably caused by a complex mix of seeing people hurt or killed, serious accidents, sexual assault or threatened sexual assault, serious physical assault, natural disasters such as bushfires, floods, and earthquakes, and living in a war zone, as a victim of war or a soldier.
Although a relationship break-up or losing a job can feel depressive, these are not the kinds of events that usually cause PTSD. Anyone can develop PTSD, but some people are at high risk. There is probably a mixture of reasons explaining why some people develop PTSD while others do not.
Treatments & Therapies for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
It is important to note that not everyone who experiences trauma develops PTSD, and not everyone who develops PTSD requires psychiatric treatment. Others get better with the help of their support system (family, friends, or clergy). But patients with high risk need professional treatment to recover from psychological distress that can be intense and disabling. It is important to remember that trauma may lead to severe distress. That distress is not the individual’s fault, and PTSD is treatable. The earlier a person gets treatment, the better chance of recovery.
Psychiatrists and other mental health professionals use various effective methods to help people recover from PTSD. Both talk therapy (psychotherapy) and medication provide effective evidence-based treatments for PTSD. One category of psychotherapy like cognitive behavior therapies (CBT), is highly effective.
Effective Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Treatment
- Cognitive Processing Therapy focuses on modifying painful negative emotions like shame, guilt, etc. and beliefs due to the trauma. Therapists help the person confront such distressing memories and emotions.
- Prolonged Exposure Therapy uses repeated, detailed imagining of the trauma or progressive exposures to symptom “triggers” in a safe, controlled way to help a person face and gain control of fear and distress and learn to cope. Whereas, stress inoculation therapy aims to arm the individual with the necessary coping skills to successfully defend against stressful triggers through the exposure of milder levels of stress, much like a vaccine is inoculated to prevent infection after exposure to an illness.
- Group therapy encourages survivors of similar traumatic events to share their experiences and reactions in a comfortable and non-judgmental setting.
- Medication can help to control the symptoms of PTSD. In addition, the symptom relief that medication provides allows many people to participate more effectively in psychotherapy.
- Other treatments provide treatment outside the conventional mental health clinic and may require less talking and disclosure than psychotherapy. Examples include acupuncture and animal-assisted therapy.
In addition to PTSD treatment, many people with disorders find out that it is immensely helpful to share their experiences and feelings with others who have similar experiences, like a peer support group.
Risk Factors of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
People of all ages can have post-traumatic stress disorder. However,
Factors of PTSD after a traumatic event, such as:
- Genetics mental health problems , including anxiety or depression
- Having other mental health problems, such as anxiety or depression
- Having problems with substance misuse, such as excess drinking or drug use
- Lacking a good support system of family and friends
- Having a job that increases your risk of being exposed to traumatic events, such as military personnel and first responders
- Experiencing intense or long-lasting trauma
- Having experienced other trauma earlier in life, such as childhood abuse
Kinds of traumatic eventsThe most common events leading to the development of PTSD include:
- Combat exposure
- Childhood physical abuse
- Sexual violence
- Physical assault
- Being threatened with a weapon
- An accident
Complications from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Post-traumatic stress disorder can destroy your whole life, your job, your relationships, your health, and your enjoyment of everyday activities. Having PTSD may also increase your risk of other mental health problems, such as:
- Depression and anxiety
- Eating disorders
- Issues with drugs or alcohol use
- Suicidal thoughts and actions
Prevention of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
After surviving a traumatic event people have PTSD symptoms at first, such as being unable to stop thinking about what has happened. Fear, anxiety, anger, depression, guilt, all are common reactions to trauma. However, most people exposed to trauma do not develop long-term post-traumatic stress disorder. Getting timely help and support may prevent normal stress reactions from getting worse and developing into PTSD. This may mean turning to family and friends who will listen and offer comfort. It may mean seeking out a mental health professional for a brief course of therapy. Some people may also find it helpful to turn to their faith community. Support from others also may help prevent you from turning to unhealthy coping methods, such as misuse of alcohol or drugs.
At We Level Up Treatment Center, we provide world-class care with round-the-clock medical professionals available to help you cope. All working as a team providing PTSD treatment for successful recovery. Make this your opportunity to reclaim your life. Call today to speak with one of our treatment specialists. Our counselors know what you are going through and will answer any of your questions.
Your call is private and confidential and there is never any obligation.