If Post Traumatic Stress Disorder takes over your mind, body, and soul, the results can be devastating and extend into every aspect of your life. Commonly referred by its PTSD acronym, the disorder initially stems from some sort of psychological or emotional trauma. It might be an isolated incident or a series of events that brings on PTSD, and the nature of the events in some cases might be more severe than others. The extreme horrors of combat often linger in the minds of the men and women serving in our U.S military and spur the onset of PTSD, for example, but so too can an isolated, seemingly unremarkable childhood incident such as a bad fall, encounter with a stranger, or attack by a dog.
Regardless of its initial cause, the end result can be the same. Recurring flashbacks, nightmares, and over-reactions to non-threatening but reminiscent stimuli are a daily fact of life for those suffering from PTSD. As these symptoms of PTSD develop, they can work to unravel your life. PTSD can jeopardize your relationships with family, friends, and loved ones; create significant damage to both your emotional and physical health, as the condition often prevents from you proper sleep, diet, and exercise; and put your personal dreams and ambitions impossibly out of reach as life itself becomes overbearing and takes away your ability to focus and function.
Individuals diagnosed with PTSD can experience recurrent images or thoughts of the trauma, what people typically refer to as “flashbacks”. These images or thoughts can make the person feel as if they are reliving the event again.
Shake with Fear
They may begin to shake with fear or feel numb. They often have dreams of the trauma. They describe experiencing significant distress if they find themselves in situations that remind them of the trauma (for example hearing a song that was playing when they were hurt).
People with PTSD may begin to avoid situations that remind them of the trauma. For example, they may no longer drive on highways if the trauma involved an accident on a highway. They may find excuses to not go out after dark after being mugged at night time.
Lack of Interest
They sometimes report a lack of interest in things they once enjoyed doing and feel detached from people they once felt close with. They often report difficulties with sleeping, controlling anger, concentrating, and relaxing. Individuals who experience a trauma and go on to develop PTSD may need the treatment to feel better.
Getting the Treatment You Need for PTSD
PTSD treatment is often sought after someone suffers a traumatic event in which their life or the life of someone they care about is endangered (or even just believed to be endangered), or in which they were seriously injured (such as an accident, sexual assault, combat, or natural disaster). They may develop PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and their lives can be devastated.
But you don’t have to let PTSD rule your life. With the right help and evidence-based treatment programs such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and EMDR, you can regain control of your life and mind, and once again enjoy a life of peace. The professional psychologist with some of the best treatment programs for PTSD can point you in the direction of one that will give you the strength, support, and comfort you need to recover.
In the battle against PTSD, it’s vitally important that you get the right help as soon as you can in the process. Left unchecked, PTSD often leads to a dual substance abuse condition such as alcoholism or drug abuse. When the two diseases develop alongside one another, the condition is referred to as dual diagnosis. Your PTSD might lead you to seek relief in the form of recreational drugs, for example, which then further ads to your despair through the onset of drug dependency and addiction.
Important Techniques for PTSD Treatment
PTSD treatment can take on varied forms. One common one, that has good evidence for working, involves exposing the individual to situations and thoughts that remind them of the trauma. Clearly, this does not sound like something someone who has been traumatized would want to do. As mentioned above, they often will avoid things that remind them of the event. Some people report that facing their traumas is too difficult and distressing. They are more likely to drop out of such treatment.
Overall, PTSD treatment that involves exposure to these things related to trauma might look like having someone drive on a highway when that is where an accident took place or walking down the street they were attacked on. These are Direct (or In-vivo) exposures.
Imaginal exposure can be utilized where the individual imagines details related to the trauma. With Direct and Imaginal exposure the therapist and individual work together to develop a list of exposure exercises, often working from less upsetting to more (for example from driving in the car, to driving near a highway, to driving on the highway). Individuals may also be taught some relaxation techniques that they can use to help after or during exposures.
There are some situations that might make Imaginal exposures ineffective. Specifically, some people have a harder time imagining than others. They just simply do not create as vivid images as others. For them, another form of PTSD treatment may be more useful.
However, over the years there has been an increased use of virtual reality for treating PTSD, specifically with combat-related trauma. Virtual reality is also useful for the situation in which direct exposure is impossible or unethical and for when an individual has great difficulty imagining.
Take the Next Step Today
The professional psychologist can help point you in the direction of a treatment program for PTSD that will provide you with top-tier and compassionate therapists, a caring support staff, a comfortable and inspiring physical environment, and one that will develop a custom treatment strategy that is unique to you.