Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a potentially debilitating condition that may result in response to experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event, such as a natural disaster, serious accident, sudden or near death of a loved one, war or combat, sexual abuse, or sexual assault. We may also develop PTSD from learning that the events happened to a close family member or friend, or by experiencing repeated or extreme exposure to details of the traumas (common in police officers, medics, etc).
We diagnose PTSD after symptoms have lasted at least one month following a trauma. Symptoms are grouped into three clusters:
- reexperiencing the trauma through flashbacks, intrusive memories of the event, extreme emotional and/or physical distress in response to cued or triggered memories of the event, and nightmares.
- numbing or avoidance in the form of inability to remember important aspects of the trauma, diminished sense of pleasure or interest in participating in significant activities, feeling detached or distanced from others, depression, a sense of a foreshortened future, and efforts to avoid thoughts, feelings, activities, places, or people that remind us of the trauma.
- Increased arousal in the form of difficulty falling or staying asleep, irritability or angry outbursts, difficulty concentrating, hypervigilance, and an exaggerated startle response.
If you or someone you love has experienced a traumatic event and the symptoms above are becoming problematic, it is important to get treatment with someone who specializes in the assessment and treatment of PTSD.
Over the past twenty years, we have developed specific therapies that are proven to be effective in the treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Specifically, Prolonged Exposure (PE), Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT), and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) have been clinically proven to be effective in the treatment of this all-too-common problem. No one has to suffer for the rest of their lives. Spread the word: treatment is not only possible, it is effective–and accessible.