POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER
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Last Medically Reviewed 15 November 2022
POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER (PTSD)
Once considered a war-related issue described as ‘shell shock’ or battle fatigue syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is now
acknowledged as a severe mental illness that results from exposure to any situation resulting in overwhelming terror. Almost anyone can
develop the condition. About 5.2 million people experience PTSD annually in America.
PTSD is an acute stress disorder that develops after experiencing trauma such as a natural disaster, military combat, rape, a severe accident, or losing a loved one. Statistically, women tend to experience it more than men, possibly due to the worldwide prevalence of domestic violence and sexual abuse.
The condition can also impair rescue workers or emergency personnel helping the victims of horrifying events. Victims’ families can also develop symptoms after worrying about what their friend or family member may have gone through.
Although PTSD is prevalent, not everyone who experiences a traumatic event will develop the condition. There are many possible reactions to trauma.
Complex trauma is considered one of the worst diagnosed disorders known to us today. Complex suffering differs from other trauma in frequency, duration, and severity. Instead of the tearing down dam of PTSD, complex trauma could be described as the cascading waterfall that occurs afterward – one serious psychological distress after the other, a rapid fire decline in a person’s capacity to live without constant fear and resentment.
Complex PTSD Treatment Centers
In a Psyclarity Health PTSD treatment program, we focus on distinguishing between post-traumatic stress and complex traumatizing stress. We believe both PTSD and complex trauma are medical conditions where there are absolutely different approaches that change from case to case. There are no magic pills or generalized treatment programs that will improve your ability to cope. Our specialists focus on individually tailored, modern psychiatric treatments, and more importantly, our focus is on caring. Even when the going gets tough, we’ll be there to help you keep going.
Trauma may cause various physical and psychological health conditions, including PTSD. Sometimes one patient is angry while another develops anxiety or depression. In fact, one can even be disconnected entirely from emotion. Some common problems and co-occurring disorders involve sleep disturbances, alcohol addiction, broken relationships, and flashbacks to episodes of trauma. Trauma survivors often struggle with eating disorders, self-destructive behavior, or even suicide. Mental health treatment programs at Psyclarity Health consist of complete care, including dual diagnosis treatment, addressing all co occurring mental disorders.
PTSD is an acute stress disorder that results from a complex combination of elements, generally triggered by exposure to traumatic experiences. Inherited mental health issues, temperament, and chemical imbalances in the brain often add intensity and significant distress, making this a debilitating condition.
Any of the following traumatic events can cause PTSD:
• Being threatened with a dangerous weapon or facing death
• Being involved in a war or other forms of armed combat
• Being in a near-deadly accident, kidnapped, or taken hostage
• Assault, including sexual assault, torture, robbery, mugging)
• Diagnosis of a fatal illness
• Experiencing the death of a loved one
• Childhood abuse
• Domestic abuse
• Physical neglect
• Surviving disaster – whether natural or artificial
Feeling shock, anger, nervousness, fear, or disbelief is normal after a bad experience. However, PTSD involves a far more extreme reaction. PTSD symptoms are characterized by repetitive, upsetting thoughts and feelings about a traumatic experience. Symptoms usually show within three months of the event, although it is not uncommon for them to start much later or even sooner. Some people may deal with re-experiencing symptoms for months or longer and can be debilitating enough to affect everyday life. PTSD symptoms are varied but can be categorized into four main types.
Flashbacks, nightmares, and even hallucinations may cause people with PTSD to feel that they are repeatedly reliving the event. Reminders of the event, such as the anniversary of when it happened, may trigger renewed feelings of the trauma. Children may re-enact the event during play sessions.
An intense urge to avoid anything that might trigger memories, including people, places, or discussing the event. They often resist quality care that can be achieved through trauma recovery. Unfortunately, this means they miss out on valuable opportunities to process trauma.
Persistent Negative Thoughts or Moods
PTSD can cause severe emotional pain. After significant distress, fear, anger, sadness, or even feelings of shame and guilt may fester for weeks or longer. Some may experience a sense of detachment or disassociation from others, which effectively cuts them off from their regular support network.
Deteriorated Physical and Emotional Reaction
People with PTSD may exhibit extreme reactions to loud noises or accidental touches that are out of context with the situation. Sleep patterns and concentration may be affected, and they may be prone to irritability or bursts of anger. Some people may also have increased heart rate, blood pressure, muscle tension, and stomach issues. Young children may also exhibit developmental issues.
RISK FACTORS FOR
Those who have an experience that is particularly traumatic or frightening have a greater chance of developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Some individuals are more likely to develop PTSD than others. People are generally more susceptible to PTSD if they have experienced some of the following.
• Been previously subjected to trauma, such as childhood abuse
• Being repeatedly exposed to deadly situations
• Mental illness, such as depression or anxiety
• Don’t have the support to manage a distressing experience
• A family who suffers from mental health issues
• Substance abuse or addiction to alcohol
• A career that exposes you to hazardous situations
• Are biologically prone to stress responses due to brain chemistry
Because most individuals will experience negative symptoms immediately following a traumatic event, in most situations, posttraumatic stress disorder is not recognized until one month after the event has occurred.
If a doctor recognizes the indicators, they will conduct a thorough assessment. This usually includes a physical examination and an inspection of the patient’s medical history to eliminate the possibility of any physical conditions causing the symptoms. The next step is to gather information about any events related to the situation and then refer the patient to a mental health specialist. A psychiatrist or psychologist will interview the patient to assess their condition using diagnostic criteria from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).
A comprehensive approach is required when treating post-traumatic stress disorder. This lengthy and complicated process usually includes a combination of medicines, psychotherapy, and behavioral therapies. It’s doubtful that all symptoms will be eliminated since this would require the memory of the event to be completely erased. However, people may learn to manage their condition with fewer and less intense episodes if they apply themselves and have a little perseverance. Effective treatment primarily aims to minimize physical and emotional side-effects, allowing victims to return to regular daily activities.
PTSD treatment programs can often include a variety of medications to manage the symptoms and assist in the healing process. Various blood pressure medications may help sleep, reduce nightmares, and reduce traumatic memories. Counseling is also provided a treatment plan to better a patient’s coping skills for dealing with triggers in the long term.
The following are a few medications that are prescribed to address multiple aspects of the condition.
A few kinds of therapy can be used to treat trauma. These also assist patients by teaching them how to manage symptoms.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
CBT helps teach patients new coping skills for managing their symptoms. It can help them deal with the fears related to the trauma and change the thought patterns associated with them. Examining the patient’s feelings surrounding the trauma gives them a chance to understand the emotional conflicts involved.
Eye Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
It is similar to extended exposure therapy in some ways. EMDR works by first recalling a traumatic event, then diverting the patient’s attention away from their emotional response to it. This minimizes the reaction so the person can manage their responses more positively.
Family therapy can be an effective treatment for PTSD. It can help people to understand and cope with their symptoms, as well as improve communication and relationships within the family. Family therapy may involve all members of the immediate family or just those who are most affected by the person’s PTSD. A therapist will help the family identify and change any patterns of behavior contributing to the person’s symptoms. Family therapy can help the family to support the person with PTSD and to understand and cope with their reactions to the disorder.
Group therapy can be effective for people struggling with PTSD. Interacting with other group members allows individuals to express their experiences and debate others’ feelings and ideas associated with similar experiences. This can help to create a sense of camaraderie and support. Group therapy can also provide education about PTSD and its treatments.
Depending on the case severity, a patient may be admitted for residential PTSD treatment. Residential care usually lasts a few weeks and is advised to help monitor a patient’s condition. Psyclarity Health offers a few residential trauma treatment programs across our facilities. If you feel that you need to seek treatment, try our free online assessment to start the admissions process. Immediate help is available to you.
Get Help for PTSD
PTSD can lead to further complications and co occuring disorders such as depression and anxiety, substance abuse, eating disorders, and even suicide attempts. These can impact relationships, health, work, and regular daily activities.
Psyclarity Health has a team of skilled, caring counselors with experience implementing effective PTSD treatment programs designed to help patients regain a fulfilling life. We have specific treatment centers specializing in inpatient trauma therapy and can also treat any cooccurring disorder. Get in touch with us today for help with post-traumatic stress disorder or counseling following a traumatic event.
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