Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, (PTSD) is often thought of for people who have been involved in war. However, there are many people who have PTSD from various traumas that can happen throughout one’s life
, such as car wrecks, domestic violence, a near fatal illness, being abused, or witnessing a horrific event—even a natural disaster.
It is important to understand that PTSD is a type of anxiety disorder. The symptoms of PTSD may include flashbacks (reliving the trauma), nightmares about the traumatic event, symptoms of avoidance and emotional numbing. This may include trying to avoid thinking or talking about the traumatic event, avoiding activities you once enjoyed, difficulty maintaining close relationships, irritability or anger, overwhelming guilt or shame, substance abuse, trouble sleeping, suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts, being easily startled or frightened.
PTSD can manifest itself in physical form. For example, people with PTSD show higher instances of fibromalaysia, arthritis, ulcers, and high blood pressure, just to name a few. If the person develops a substance abuse problem as a result of self-medicating, there may be legal, health, financial, and family problems.
If you have been involved in a traumatic event, you do not necessarily have PTSD. Some people are involved and witness very horrific events with little or no problems, whereas, others may have many PTSD symptoms as a result.
What to do if you think you have PTSD:
Participate in a PTSD assessment by a mental health professional.
Get a medical checkup with your primary care doctor to ensure that you do not have any physical.
Treatments for PTSD:
Individual and family psychotherapy. This will involve relaxation skills, stress management and processing of traumatic events.
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). This is a type of therapy that focuses on helping the mind to process the traumas that it has experienced.
“Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)1 is a comprehensive, integrative psychotherapy approach. It contains elements of many effective psychotherapies in structured protocols that are designed to maximize treatment effects. These include psychodynamic, cognitive behavioral, interpersonal, experiential, and body-centered therapies.”
There is no medication specifically made for PTSD. However, the antidepressants sertraline (Zoloft) and paroxetine (Paxil) have FDA approval for treating PTSD. The use of benzodiazepines is discouraged due to its addictive qualities and potential interference with psychotherapy as the client is less likely to be able to appropriately process the feelings related to PTSD.
What can you do to address PTSD symptoms?
Download the free App: PTSD Coach http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/pages/PTSDcoach.asp
Take the course "Considering Professional Help"