What is PTSD?
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is the development of symptoms that occur following direct or indirect exposure to a traumatic or terrifying event in which physical harm was threatened, witnessed, or actually experienced. PTSD also can occur after the unexpected or violent death of a family member or close friend, or following serious harm or threat of death or injury to a loved one. Studies show that PTSD occurs in 1%-14% of the population. It can be diagnosed at at any age, and can occur as a sudden, short-term response (called acute stress disorder) or develop gradually and become chronic or persistent. Most people with the PTSD try to avoid any reminders or thoughts of the trauma. Despite this avoidance, they often re-experience the ordeal in the form of intense “flashbacks,” memories, nightmares, or frightening thoughts, especially when they’re re-exposed to events or objects that remind them of the trauma. PTSD can develop from exposure to a traumatic event such as rape, physical or sexual abuse, domestic violence, natural disasters, accidents, military combat, and life threatening medical illnesses.The severity and likelihood of developing PTSD varies according to the nature of the event, as well as individual factors such as social support, family history, childhood experiences, personality, and any existing mental health problems or stress.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy has been shown to be one of the most effective treatments for PTSD. This type of therapy helps you to adopt new thoughts and behaviors in place of destructive or negative ones, while safely revisiting aspects of the trauma. Your goal is to understand how certain thoughts about your trauma cause you stress and make your symptoms worse.You will learn to identify thoughts about the world and yourself that are making you feel afraid or upset. SDPS will help you to learn to replace these thoughts with more accurate and less distressing thoughts. You will also learn ways to cope with feelings such as anger, guilt, and fear. Exposure therapy has also been highly researched for the treatment of PTSD. The goal of exposure therapy is help to decrease the fear that is associated with your memories. Exposure therapy is based on the idea that people learn to fear thoughts, feelings, and situations that remind them of a past traumatic event. By talking about your trauma repeatedly with a therapist, you’ll learn to feel in control of your thoughts and feelings. SDPS will assist you with discussing your bad memories gradually (desensitization) so that as time goes on you will feel less overwhelmed. Your therapist will also assist you in developing a variety of coping skills and relaxation techniques to help your healing. In some cases, medication or neurofeedback may be recommended to help alleviate serious symptoms of depression and anxiety associated with PTSD.