Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition in which a person experiences negative changes to their mood, behavior and thoughts about themselves and others resulting from exposure to a traumatic event. A traumatic event occurs when a person experiences actual or threatened violence, actual or threatened death, sexual abuse, or witnesses any of these happening to others.
Examples of traumas include vehicle accidents, physical or sexual assault, fires, or surviving an extreme weather event such as a tornado. Most people who go through such extreme experiences have a period of grief, confusion, processing and difficult emotions in the weeks or months following the event. For some individuals, however, recovery from a traumatic event becomes much more prolonged or complicated, requiring outside support. These are the individuals who suffer from PTSD.
In many ways, individuals with PTSD may feel and act as though their traumatic event is still occurring. They may experience flashbacks, trouble sleeping, and may be on constant alert. Most individuals with PTSD make changes to their lives to avoid reminders of their trauma; for example, by refusing to drive after being in an accident. In the short term, these changes may help to relieve or manage anxiety. However, they ultimately cause anxiety to increase, and for the person to feel limited and powerless.
Symptoms of PTSD vary widely, but may include:
- Recurrent, intrusive memories of the trauma
- Recurrent nightmares related to the trauma
- Flashbacks, or feeling as if the event is happening again in the present
- Feeling “jumpy” or easily startled
- Irritability or aggression
- Difficulty falling or staying asleep
- Difficulty concentrating
- Risky behavior, such as drug and alcohol use or unprotected sex
- Negative thoughts about self or the world
- Exaggerated blame toward self or others (other than the perpetrator) for the trauma
- Increased negative emotions, such as fear, anger, guilt or sadness
- Difficulty experiencing positive emotions
- Feeling disconnected from others
At The OCD & Anxiety Center, we specialize in the treatment of this pervasive mental health condition, and have received training from top PTSD experts to deliver evidence-based treatment to PTSD sufferers of all ages. The gold standard treatments for PTSD are exposure-based therapies called Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) and Prolonged Exposure Therapy (PE). Our specialists are trained in both PE and CPT in the treatment of PTSD. Through PE and CPT, individuals with PTSD learn to face reminders of their trauma as well as their trauma memory gradually, helping them gain their lives back from PTSD. In addition, they are able to challenge stuck thinking about themselves, others, and the world. Treatment is very effective, and people achieve progress relatively quickly regardless of the type of trauma experienced. If you or someone you know would benefit from our specialized PTSD treatment services, please reach out to us at (630) 522-3124 today!