Often triggered by traumatic experiences that induced great fear and emotional distress, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can make it difficult for people to live their lives in a secure, confident manner. PTSD can be extremely debilitating, making it necessary for family, friends, and loved ones to recognize PTSD symptoms, causes, and seek appropriate and effective treatment. While those who suffer from PTSD may struggle with depression and feelings of despair, there is both help and hope available. PTSD can be treated.
PTSD is associated with a number of symptoms. They are grouped into three categories: intrusive memories, avoidance and numbing, and hyperarousal; an increase or elevation of emotional reactions and the arousal of anxiety. Intrusive thoughts are a symptom of a variety of illnesses and conditions, such as obsessive, compulsive disorder; but there is a vast difference between the intrusive, repetitive thoughts of OCD and PTSD. PTSD victims may deal with repetitive, intrusive thoughts or dreams regarding traumatic experiences they lived through. This differs from other conditions where the thoughts may be based in fear of the unknown or images of things that have not occurred. Avoidance and numbing may occur when people who’ve lived through traumatic experiences try to put the thoughts out of their minds and not think about them. Numbing may involve cutting one’s self off from people or situations that triggers memories of the event. Hyperarousal involves a heightened sense of awareness following a traumatic event and brings increased anxiety; often creating feelings of anxiousness.
Undergoing a traumatic event is the primary cause of PTSD. Some situations that produce the level of trauma associated with PTSD include rape, witnessing murder, or being the victim of attempted murder, undergoing severe physical or emotional abuse, being involved in a war and/or active duty, killing someone in a situation of self-defense, childhood abuse (emotional, physical, and sexual), and being victimized through bullying. Any experience a person undergoes that produces extreme fear can trigger PTSD. While many cases of PTSD begin shortly after the traumatic experience, there have been cases when PTSD didn’t surface for several years later.
There is help for those who suffer from PTSD. Wide arrays of treatments are available and researchers are continually developing more effective methods of management. Many PTSD treatments involve the use of medications and behavioral therapy. The therapy often involves talking about the trauma and learning ways to deal with the emotional responses the event caused. PTSD doesn’t solely affect the person who went through the trauma, but also their relationships. Sometimes family therapy is needed in order to move past the impacts of PTSD.
PTSD may or may not occur with depression. For those who also suffer from clinical depression, anti-depressants may be prescribed. Many people diagnosed with PTSD may numb their feelings through addictions, such as alcohol, drugs, food, or sex. Treatment may also involve addressing these addictions and behaviors as well. If there is a physical addiction to substance, a time of detox or rehab may be required before the long-term work of psychotherapy or behavioral therapy begins. PTSD treatment is a holistic approach. It isn’t enough to focus solely on the traumatic experience, but also any underlying issues of depression, anxiety, and addictions.
Behavioral therapy provides the tools needed for those suffering with PTSD to learn alternative methods for dealing with painful memories and traumatic experiences. Examples of medications prescribed for PTSD include serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) such as Paxil and Zoloft, and anti-anxiety medications. Learning how to cope with traumatic events is a crucial aspect of successful PTSD treatment. PTSD manifests in a multiple of ways and each must be addressed. Scheduling an appointment to assess your condition and evaluate your situation is vital for developing an effective treatment plan.
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