What is PTSD

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, commonly abbreviated as PTSD, is a psychiatric disorder that affects over 7 million Americans. This disorder can involve intense and realistic hallucinatory flashbacks to a triggering event, avoidant behaviors, and compulsive thoughts.

While it is often associated with combat veterans, PTSD can affect anyone. Any person who goes through a traumatic event can develop a form or this disorder, which is often comorbid with other disorders such as depression and anxiety.

While those with PTSD can feel that they cannot escape their symptoms due to their intensity, the truth is that there are interventions available. Working with a therapist can help a PTSD patient take significant steps towards healing.

The Different Types of PTSD

PTSD manifests differently from patient to patient, but there are four general categories of the disorder:

  • Intrusive thoughts: This type of PTSD includes intense fixation on the past trauma with flashbacks.
  • Negative changes in mood and thoughts: In this type of PTSD, the patient’s personality shifts towards an extremely negative perception of the world, often affecting interpersonal relationships.
  • Avoidant: Patients with this type of PTSD refuse to acknowledge any aftermath or even that the triggering event occurred in the first place.
  • Changes in emotional and physical reactions: People with this type of PTSD feel constant anxiety and an inability to relax.

The Triggers of PTSD

There are any number of events that can trigger PTSD, including but not limited to the following:

  • Transportation accidents
  • Being the victim of an assault
  • Witness a mass shooting
  • Witnessing a murder
  • Experiencing robbery
  • Living through natural disasters
  • Rape
  • The sudden death of a family member
  • War
  • Any other kind of violence

It is not beneficial for those with PTSD to compare the nature of their traumatic event with someone else’s. While the causes vary, the symptoms and impact on the individual are serious and require intervention.

The Symptoms of PTSD

Everything from someone’s background to the triggering event can affect which symptoms present in PTSD. Even if two people experience the same trauma, they may still come out with different manifestations of the disorder. General symptoms for PTSD include:

  • Emotional numbness
  • Abuse of drugs or alcohol
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Depressive episodes
  • Irritability
  • Feeling anxious constantly
  • Insomnia
  • Impulsivity
  • Nightmares or flashbacks
  • Scaring easily
  • Anxiety
  • Avoidant tendencies

Types of PTSD Treatment

PTSD treatment works best when it is tailored to the specific needs of a patient. There are several different types of therapy that can help with PTSD, as well as medication.

Support Groups

PTSD can be a very isolating disorder. As such, support groups can be an invaluable tool in healing. In these sessions, isolated patients can process their emotions through shared stories in the group.

Individual Counseling for PTSD

Individuals with PTSD can also benefit from individual therapy with a mental health professional. Counseling techniques that can be effective for PTSD include:

  • CBT
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing
  • Cognitive Processing Therapy
  • Prolonged Exposure
  • Narrative Exposure Therapy

Group Therapy

Patients with PTSD can also consider therapist-led trauma group therapy. In these sessions, participants share stories and experiences but also work to develop coping mechanisms.