Most of us won’t get through life without our fair share of stress and heartache. But some people experience not just anxiety, sadness, or grief, but actual trauma. This can be from events like being involved in a bad car accident, rape, a natural disaster, or war.
Experiencing such events is called post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a condition where the mind cannot process the event as it processes ordinary life events. The result is a brain that misfires information, causing the person to live much of their life distressed as if the event were still happening to them.
Symptoms of PTSD
There are many symptoms associated with PTSD, but the most common ones are:
• Psychological and physiological distress at reminders
• Avoidance of internal and external reminders
• Dissociative amnesia
• Negative beliefs about oneself and the world
• Distorted blaming of oneself
• Negative persistent emotional states
• Loss of interests
• Detachment from loved ones
• Exaggerated startle response
• Difficulty concentrating
• Difficulty sleeping
• Irritability or outbursts of anger
• Self-destructive or reckless behavior
Causes of PTSD
Researchers are unclear why some people experience PTSD and others don’t. For example, what makes one soldier come home from war with PTSD and another not develop the disorder?
The best we can guess is that the development of PTSD is likely from a combination of complex factors such as neurological, stress, life experiences, personality, and genetics. It is also worth mentioning that pre-traumatic psychological factors (low self-esteem, for example) may increase the risk factor for developing PTSD.
How Can Trauma be Treated?
The most common form of treatment for PTSD is something called cognitive behavioral therapy. This kind of therapy involves meeting with a specially-trained therapist over several sessions to learn strategies and techniques that will reduce and eliminate symptoms of PTSD, such as recurring thoughts, emotional numbness, sleep issues, and concentration problems. Beyond finding a trained therapist, it’s essential to find one you and your family feel comfortable with, so make sure to interview a few candidates to see who might help you on your journey to wellness.
Please be in touch if you or a loved one are suffering from PTSD and would like to explore treatment options. I would be more than happy to see how I may be able to help.