What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, also known as PTSD, is the result of severe physical or emotional trauma such as from a natural disaster, serious accident, crime or threat to life. Thoughts, feelings and behavior patterns become seriously affected by reminders of the event, sometimes months or even years after the traumatic experience. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD may be acute, which means experienced shortly after the traumatic event, or delayed, in which case the symptoms do not occur for at least six months after the trauma. However, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD symptoms may occur any time following the trauma.
Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can occur to anyone after experiencing an extremely stressful situation
Sometimes these situations are life threatening and involve actual or threatened death or serious injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of self or others.
Additionally, the person’s response to this event involved intense fear, helplessness, or horror. As you can see, someone could develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD as a result of a serious motor vehicle accident, natural disaster, or work related events.
For example, law enforcement officers, fire fighters, bank tellers and convenience store clerks are in occupations for the risk for post traumatic stress disorder is high.
Returning combat veterans are also in high risk occupations for PTSD. Crime victims, including victims of sexual assault, robberies and break-ins also have high rates of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD.
More than 5 million adults are affected by this disorder every year. Twice as many women are affected than men. Post traumatic stress disorder became recognized in the later 1960’s and 1970’s, when the Viet Nam era combat veterans had trouble re-entering society.
Before this, many sufferers were diagnosed as having stress or battle fatigue, given medication and sent home. Since then, PTSD has been recognized as a frequent result of a traumatic event.
What are the symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder?
A person with post traumatic stress disorder may experience numerous symptoms. Flashbacks and nightmares in which the traumatic events are re-experienced are common. Intense over – reactions to situations or events that remind the victim of the original stressors is also frequent. There is often a feeling of detachment at the time of the event, accompanied by a loss of interest in activities or a lack of positive emotion in the aftermath. Avoidance of people, places or situations associated with the trauma may be expected. Difficulty sleeping, irritability and being easily startled are frequently reported. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is most often associated with depression and substance abuse. Depression often sets in as a result of feeling helpless and alcohol or drugs may be used to try and suppress overwhelming, disturbing feelings and memories.
Many people exhibit roller coaster feelings or emotions after a traumatic experience, but for most, such symptoms fade after a few weeks. However, if these distressing feelings do not subside, it is important to recognize them as the early signs and symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder. Depression and a sense of growing anxiety can lead to phobias, panic attacks and behavioral changes. There is evidence that suggests the quicker Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD is recognized and treated, the better the chances for a positive outcome. If you feel that someone you know may be suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, it’s extremely important that he or she be assessed by a trained mental health professional.
What are some treatments for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?
There are several methods of treatment that have proven to be effective with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD. For most people, multiple forms of treatment will be recommended. Medication is an important part of treating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD, but is typically only one part of an effective regimen. Individual or group psychotherapy may also be helpful. However, if medication and individual or group therapy are not helping you adequately cope with your symptoms and the traumatic event(s), intensive outpatient treatment may be appropriate. Not surprisingly, people with anxiety disorders are the second most frequently treated patients in our Intensive Outpatient Program. Of those, individuals suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder are among the most frequent subtype of anxiety disorders.
This is not really surprising since anxiety disorders are so prevalent and since Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD is one of the most disabling anxiety conditions. In our intensive outpatient program, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder patients will receive a psychiatric evaluation to determine medication needs, group therapy to learn coping skills for symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and individualized plan of care using evidence based treatment methods to help you regain a sense of control over your life. Post-traumatic growth and traumatic transformations are possible!
Where Treatment for PTSD Occurs
Whether the type of treatment is psychotherapy and/or medication, most treatment for PTSD occurs on an outpatient basis. Hospitalization is now reserved for only the most severe, unsafe cases. This has resulted in a significant gap between traditional outpatient therapy, which usually occurs for one hour per week, and the 24 hour care provided in the hospital. Fortunately, there are now Intensive Outpatient Programs that have proven to be effective in the treatment of PTSD.
These programs provide services to those who need more treatment than one hour a week, but less than 24 hour care, by providing up to three hours of treatment per day, three to five days per week, in an outpatient setting. Mental Health Resources specializes in providing an Intensive Outpatient Program for PTSD and other behavioral health disorders. Call now to schedule an assessment to determine if our Intensive Outpatient Program can help you.