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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Treatment (PTSD) Orientation

Introduction to PTSD

What is PTSD?

PTSD is a behavioral health condition that some people develop after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event, like combat, a natural disaster, a car accident, or sexual assault.

What are the symptoms of PTSD?

PTSD symptoms usually start soon after the traumatic event, but they may not appear until months or years later. It is important to note that following a traumatic event, PTSD symptoms are normal reactions that often resolve on their own over time. They also may come and go over many years. If the symptoms last longer than four weeks and cause you great distress or interfere with your work or home life, you might have PTSD.

There are four types of symptoms of PTSD but they may not be exactly the same for everyone.

  • Re-experiencing the event through repeated invasive thoughts or reliving the event as a flashback.
  • Feeling keyed up (also called hyperarousal). You may be jittery, or always alert and on the lookout for danger. Or, you may have trouble concentrating or sleeping.
  • Having more negative beliefs and feelings. The way you think about yourself and others may change because of the trauma. You may feel guilt or shame. Or, you may not be interested in activities you used to enjoy.
  • Avoiding situations that remind you of the event.

What other problems can people face with PTSD?

People with PTSD may also have other challenges. These include:

  • Feelings of hopelessness, shame, or despair
  • Depression and/or anxiety
  • Drinking and/or drug problems
  • Physical symptoms and/or chronic pain
  • Employment problems
  • Relationship problems, including divorce

What factors affect who develops PTSD?

A number of factors can increase the chance that someone will have PTSD, many of which are not under that person's control. For example, having a very intense or long-lasting traumatic event or getting injured during the event can make it more likely that a person will develop PTSD. Personal factors, like previous traumatic exposure, age, and gender, can affect whether or not a person will develop PTSD.

It is important to note that not everyone is likely to develop PTSD after they experience a traumatic event. It is normal after such events to experience feelings of anxiety, hypervigilance, and sometimes even depressive symptoms following a traumatic experience. Those who struggle to develop healthy, long-term coping strategies when reminded of a traumatic event may develop behaviors that reduce or alleviate negative symptoms associated with the traumatic experience in the short-term, but which are maladaptive to long-term recovery. These individuals can benefit from treatment that will help build healthier coping strategies for the future.

Can people with PTSD get better?

"Getting better" means different things for different people. There are many different treatment options for PTSD. Typically people who complete treatment find they have fewer symptoms or feel that their symptoms are less intense. The goal of treatment is to teach skills and behaviors for addressing symptoms so that they no longer interfere with your everyday activities, work, and relationships.

To learn more about PTSD click here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YMC2jt_QVEE

Overview of Evidence Based Treatment for PTSD

  • Unlike in the past, we know much more about PTSD now, and there are effective treatments that can help reduce symptoms, increase your daily functioning, and help you process/make sense of your traumatic experiences.
  • The kinds of treatments that have the greatest impact on PTSD symptoms and lead to long-term gains, often involve talking about your traumatic experiences or exposing ourselves to thoughts, feelings, and stimuli related to our traumatic experiences.
  • We know that this is tremendously difficult and often seems to go against our instinctual drive toward avoiding things that feel threatening. Nevertheless, it has proven to be an essential component of trauma-treatment, and it’s why we are here to help.

Gold-Standard Psychotherapies Available

  • Prolonged Exposure (PE)
    • Prolonged Exposure (PE) teaches you to gradually approach trauma-related memories, feelings, and situations that you have been avoiding since your trauma. By confronting these challenges, you can decrease your PTSD symptoms.
    • To learn more about PE click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rHg_SlEqJGc
  • Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT)
    • Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) teaches you how to evaluate and change the upsetting thoughts you have had since your trauma. By changing your thoughts, you can change how you feel.
    • To learn more about CPT click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jqj5zDbkPxY
  • EMDR
    • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a psychotherapy treatment that was originally designed to alleviate the distress associated with traumatic memories. After successful treatment with EMDR therapy, affective distress is relieved, negative beliefs are reformulated, and physiological arousal is reduced.

Medication Management

  • Although there are evidence-based psychotherapies for PTSD, it is important to note that adjunctive medication management can also be important in managing PTSD symptoms.
  • Medications for PTSD can include SSRIs and SNRIs, which have been shown to be helpful in treating PTSD symptoms, as well as symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Next Steps

Contact us to set up an appointment:

Multi-Disciplinary Behavioral Health Clinic Walk-In/Triage

Campus Behavioral Health Services Triage

Campus Behavioral Health Services

In case of an Emergency or if you may be in danger of hurting yourself, you may:

Suicide Prevention Resources

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