What is PTSD, and what’s the best approach to treating this disorder?
Can any type of stress cause Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?
PTSD is an emotional disorder that occurs in reaction to a dangerous or traumatic experience (or multiple experiences). A fear response is normal when people are in danger — our brains have a built-in survival mechanism that results in “fight or flight” behavior to keep us safe (and there’s a third reaction as well; we may “freeze” like a deer caught in the headlights). Many people experience this type of fear response long after the danger has passed — this response is known as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD.
PTSD develops as a result of scary, often terrifying events that result in physical harm or the threat of harm to oneself or to loved ones. Symptoms develop when someone personally experiences this type of trauma, and symptoms of PTSD can develop simply by witnessing this type of trauma. There are many types of trauma that can result in PTSD, including:
- Experiences during wartime combat
- Child abuse
- Sexual assault and rape
- Car accidents and plane crashes
- Victims of robbery and muggings
- Natural disasters
What are the signs and symptoms of PTSD?
There are three categories of symptoms related to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder:
- Re-experiencing the traumatic event(s)
- Flashbacks – vivid memories and distressing feelings related to the trauma
- Nightmares about the trauma
- Repeated distressing thoughts about the traumatic events
- Direct avoidance of situations and places related to the trauma
- Emotional avoidance; feeling emotionally numb; loss of interest
- Replacement emotions; guilt, depression, and worry
- Hair trigger startle reflex
- Feeling very tense (“on edge”) or angry, on a regular basis
- Sleep disturbance
PTSD is not a “condition” that will simply pass or fade over time. Treatment for PTSD is highly effective and relief from symptoms can occur quite rapidly.
The treatment team at the Relationship Center of South Florida has the training and experience necessary to heal the emotional wounds of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. The most effective treatment for PTSD may include both medication and psychotherapy. Research studies indicate that the counseling and therapy methods we use at our Center are most effective in the successful treatment of PTSD.
- EMDR – Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing
- CBT (Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy)
- Stress Inoculation Therapy
- Mindfulness Training
- Supportive Psychotherapy
Family members also need support and guidance from helping professionals when someone they love develops PTSD after a trauma.