Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
What is PTSD?
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a psychiatric disorder that may occur in individuals who have witnessed or experienced a traumatic event such as:
- A natural disaster
- Death of a loved one
- Physical or sexual assault
- Verbal, physical, sexual abuse in childhood
- A serious accident or life-threatening medical diagnosis
- Being threatened with death, sexual assault, or serious injury.
While most people who go through a traumatic event will have short-term responses to life-threatening events, others may develop longer-term symptoms that can impact their overall functioning.
PTSD affects about 3.6% of the U.S. population—about 9 million individuals. Symptoms of PTSD often coexist with other mental health conditions such as substance abuse disorders, depression, and anxiety. While anyone of any age can struggle with PTSD, this condition affects women at a higher rate.
How do I know if I have PTSD?
A diagnosis of PTSD requires a discussion with a trained professional. Symptoms of PTSD generally fall into these broad categories:
- Re-experiencing symptoms. These are recurring, involuntary and intrusive distressing memories (e.g., flashbacks of the trauma, nightmares, and intrusive thoughts).
- Avoidance. Examples include staying away from certain places or objects that are reminders of the traumatic event. This also includes avoiding certain thoughts or memories of the traumatic event.
- Alterations in cognition and mood. This can include changes in how one views themselves (e.g., “I can’t keep myself safe.”, “I deserve what happened to me.”), others (e.g., “Other people cannot be trusted.”), or the world (e.g., “The world is an unpredictable place.”). A person may also feel numb, guilty, worried, or depressed.
- Increased arousal. Examples might include increased hypervigilance, being easily startled, outburst of anger, or trouble sleeping.
It is important to note that young children can also develop PTSD, and that their symptoms may be different from those of adults. It is essential that a child be assessed by a professional who is skilled in the developmental responses to stressful events.
When should I get help for PTSD?
PTSD symptoms can lead to life-altering behaviors and thoughts that lower your quality of life, affect your work performance, and break apart your relationships. Someone should seek out professional help if their symptoms of PTSD cause them distress or impact their ability to function. Getting treatment as soon as possible can help prevent your symptoms from getting worse. The caring team at Thriving Center of Psychology can help treat your symptoms and help you gain control of your life.
It is common for individuals with PTSD to experience thoughts of suicide. If you or someone you know has suicidal thoughts, get help right away through one or more of these resources:
- National Suicide Prevention Line: 1(800) 273-8255
- Text HOME to 741741 to reach a Crisis Counselor
- Reach out to a loved one or a close friend
- Contact someone in your faith community
What are treatments for PTSD?
PTSD is generally treated with psychotherapy but may include medication when appropriate. Fortunately, there are several evidence-based treatments that will help you reclaim control over your life, including:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy (TF-CBT; for ages 3-18)
- Prolonged exposure therapy
- Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy (VRET)
- Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)
The clinicians at Thriving Center of Psychology are trained in evidence-based treatments that have helped numerous individuals recover from their symptoms of PTSD. If you or someone you know is struggling with PTSD, the dedicated team at Thriving Center can help. Learn more by booking an evaluation online or over the phone today.