Understanding PTSD and Available Treatments

Available Treatments for PTSD in Cranberry Twp, Monroeville & Mt. Lebanon, PA

The National Comorbidity Survey Replication estimates that approximately 6.8% of the population will develop Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) at some point in life.  Women are more than twice as likely than men to develop symptoms of PTSD after a trauma.  Traumas can vary from physical or sexual assaults, natural disasters, acts of terrorism, witnessing deaths or serious injuries, vehicle accidents, combat experiences, or any situation where individuals may fear death or serious injury.  The previous examples are not meant to be all-inclusive.  Trauma is very subjective and relies on the cognitive and emotional processing of the individuals who experience the events.

The DSM-V lists four symptom clusters for PTSD.  Individuals may re-experience the trauma through intrusive thoughts, nightmares, flashbacks, or by experiencing distress when encountering reminders of the incident.  Individuals tend to make active efforts to avoid thoughts, feelings, or reminders of the trauma.  After the trauma, negative thoughts and feelings tend to worsen.  This worsening may be apparent in a more negative view of the world, feelings of guilt, more frequent negative emotions, feelings of isolation, or decreased interest in activities.  Individuals may have a higher level of arousal and reactivity after traumas.  This increase in arousal may be apparent in increased irritability, risky behavior, feeling edgy/jumpy, difficulty concentrating, or issues with sleep.  It is normal for the body to respond to trauma in a way that facilitates survival.  Issues may arise when this response lasts for a significant period and interferes with life and happiness.

PTSD may vary in complexity.  Individuals who experience childhood, interpersonal or repeated traumas may have a more complex form of PTSD.  Complex PTSD may require longer and different treatments.  Typical treatments for PTSD are brief and time-limited.  Most treatments for PTSD include elements of cognitive behavioral therapy.  Effective treatments typically teach individuals new ways to regulate reactivity and/or integrate exposure-based activities.  Exposure-based therapies utilize the security of the therapeutic relationship to expose individuals to symptoms of PTSD and reminders of the trauma.  Through this process, the reactivity to the symptoms and reminders tends to less, and individuals are typically better able to engage life more fully.

The PTSD diagnosis cannot be made unless difficulties are present for at least one month.  This fact should not deter people from seeking help sooner.  Individuals who are experiencing distress should seek help as soon as possible.  They do not have to wait until the pain becomes unbearable.  It is important to choose a clinician who has specific training and experience in providing the previously discussed treatments.

You can contact the Cognitive Behavior Institute if you live in Western Pennsylvania and need help.  The Cognitive Behavior Institute provides clinical services that are consistent with the approaches described previously.  You can also contact the Academy of Cognitive Therapy to find resources nationally.

Thomas M. Workman, PhD, LPC, NCC, ACS

Clinical Supervisor at the Cognitive Behavior Institute

Assistant Professor of Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Franciscan University

Photo Copyright: jacqueline2 / 123RF Stock Photo

This article was originally posted on Cognitive Behavior Institute March 2018

 

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