Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Treatment (PTSD) is a type of anxiety disorder. It is often attributed to war veterans because of the dire combat conditions in which they have served. The Veterans Affairs Department reports 8 million people in America experience PTSD in a given year.

They also report that combat PTSD is not the only trauma that can cause post-traumatic stress. Many types of trauma can happen at any time during the life of both men and women.

Below is a list of the most common traumas.

Symptoms of PTSD

For each person suffering from PTSD, symptoms can vary. One person may have repressed PTSD symptoms from abuse as a child that don’t appear until adulthood. Others may begin experiencing symptoms immediately following a trauma.

Psychiatrists typically categorize symptoms when making a PTSD diagnosis. Three main types of symptoms include re-experiencing the trauma, emotional numbness and avoidance, and increased arousal, making it hard to function.

The most common symptoms include:

  • Flashbacks or nightmares of the trauma
  • Sleep disturbances like insomnia
  • Low self-esteem, depression, or feeling hopeless
  • Panic attacks, phobias, or obsessive-compulsive behaviors
  • Repeated exposure to similar traumas (often experienced by medical emergency professionals)
  • Intrusive memories of the trauma
  • Physiological reactions when reminded of the trauma.
  • Avoiding people, places, and things that remind you of the trauma
  • Distorted negative beliefs or expectations of people or yourself
  • Lack of interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Feelings of detachment from others
  • Anxiety-related problems, from panic to phobias to generalized anxiety
  • Being unable to remember the trauma

Additionally, symptoms can include behavior changes such as becoming more irritable, aggressive, and self-destructive or engaging in risky behaviors. You may become easily startled or triggered by reminders of the triggers. For example, the sounds of fireworks mimic gunshots, causing those with PTSD to think about and fear a recurrence.

PTSD, if left untreated, can make it hard for you to maintain employment, as well as relationships with friends and family.

Too often, people find themselves using drugs, alcohol, or other substances to self-medicate their symptoms. While this may work for a little while, more damage is created for the brain and the body over time.

No matter what stage a person is in, PTSD can be treated successfully, and you can go on to live a healthy life free of trauma-related symptoms.

Types of Traumas

Sexual assault can happen to anyone at any time. Sexual assault ranges from harassment, child molestation, date rape, violent sexual abuse, sex trafficking, forced pornography, and any other sexual act against your will and harmful.

Physical assaults happen through violent acts of abuse. Being beaten by a parent, bullied by peers, or attacked out of nowhere are examples of physical abuse. You may also be the victim of violent attempts on your life, or you may witness someone else being attacked.

Other traumas can include being a victim of a natural disaster. Hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods can create massive damage in your life. Serious accidents, whether they cause lasting damage or not, can cause lingering, frightening memories. Even the loss of a loved one unexpectedly can create grief so overwhelming it becomes a trauma in your life.

No matter what type of trauma you have, there is help available. The first step to getting help is learning to recognize the signs and symptoms of PTSD.

PTSD Treatment

Your treatment plan, created with a psychiatrist’s help, will be different from someone else’s treatment plan. There is no “one size fits all” treatment plan because your life trauma is not the same trauma others experienced.

Typically, a combination of medication and therapies are recommended. To decrease anxiety, psychiatrists will often choose medicines that help your brain produce more serotonin and dopamine since those are the two primary neurotransmitters associated with PTSD.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is recommended by the American Psychological Association to treat PTSD because the ultimate goal is to change your thinking, which will change the way you act or react. CBT can also include prolonged exposure treatments, desensitizing you, and giving less power to the trauma.

Cognitive processing is also designed to change negative thoughts and replace them with healthier, more realistic thoughts.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy (EMDR)

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy EMDR has shown great success with PTSD survivors. However, it must only be provided by a licensed EMDR provider. It takes extensive training but allows your therapist to help you decrease the vividness of the trauma and detach emotions associated with the trauma, using eye movements.

The Trauma Resilience Model

The Trauma Resilience Model of therapy teaches you new ways to deal with stressful events. You don’t have to repeat the same cycle of negative emotions that lead to negative behaviors.

Post-Induction Therapy Model

Post-Induction Therapy Model by Pia Melody is a unique treatment for those with childhood traumas that may now find themselves co-dependent and have other attachment disorders. With some traumas, our emotional development is hindered. While the body grows, emotions remain at the age of the trauma. With this therapy, you can process your trauma and quickly regain emotional maturity.

Written Exposure Therapy

Written Exposure Therapy is a newer treatment in which a therapist gives you specific instructions that guide you in writing about your trauma. You will also be directed in writing about the thoughts and feelings surrounding the trauma. While this is not considered a front-line therapy, it can be beneficial to supplement the other treatments.

Start with an Evaluation and Treatment Plan

An excellent place to start in your journey of overcoming PTSD is to get an accurate diagnosis from a mental health specialist, a psychiatrist. Doing this first helps you get medicine, if needed, that can help clear your mind so you can fully participate in therapeutic activities.

A psychiatrist can not only provide you with specifically designed treatments for PTSD, but they can also refer you to local resources, like support groups, that can aid in your healing.

You can start today by reaching out online or by phone. There are many professionals ready to help.

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