What is PTSD? Do I have PTSD? Can PTSD be successfully treated?

Post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD is a mental health condition that is triggered by experiencing or witnessing a terrifying event that involved serious injury, sexual violence, death or threatened death. Symptoms may occur immediately and may include any or all of the following: problems sleeping, flashbacks, nightmares, severe anxiety, avoidance of reminders of the trauma, distressing body sensations, and uncontrollable thoughts about the event. Moreover,

Symptoms of PTSD fall into the following four categories:

  1. Intrusive thoughts such as repeated, involuntary memories; distressing dreams; or flashbacks of the traumatic event. Flashbacks may be so vivid that people feel they are re-living the traumatic experience or seeing it before their eyes.
  2. Avoiding reminders of the traumatic event may include avoiding people, places, activities, objects and situations that bring on distressing memories. People may try to avoid remembering or thinking about the traumatic event. They may resist talking about what happened or how they feel about it.
  3. Negative thoughts and feelings may include ongoing and distorted beliefs about oneself or others (e.g., “I am bad,” “No one can be trusted”); ongoing fear, horror, anger, guilt or shame; much less interest in activities previously enjoyed; or feeling detached or estranged from others.
  4. Arousal and reactive symptoms may include being irritable and having angry outbursts; behaving recklessly or in a self-destructive way; being easily startled; or having problems concentrating or sleeping

If you have experienced these symptoms over a month or longer and notice that they have interfered with your regular day-to-day activities, you might consider seeing your primary care physician or a mental health professional who can help you determine if you qualify for the disorder and discuss how you might benefit from PTSD treatment.

If you believe that you might have PTSD, it may be helpful to know that there are several treatments that research has found to be effective in helping people work through their symptoms. Cognitive Processing Therapy or CPT is one such evidence-based treatment. CPT is a twelve-session, manualized treatment protocol which focuses on helping a traumatized person modify negative cognitions related to themes of safety, trust, power and control, and esteem and intimacy. CPT has one of the largest bodies of evidence to support its effectiveness than any other treatments for PTSD. Other research-based PTSD treatments are Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy, Prolonged Exposure (PE) and medication.

If you would like more information about PTSD treatment, you may contact me by telephone, (323) 315-2598, or by e-mail: tony@tonymadriltherapy.com


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