What is PTSD (Post-traumatic Stress Disorder) ?
PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) is a mental health problem that some people develop after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event, like combat, a natural disaster, a car accident, or sexual assault.
What Causes PTSD?
The situations we find traumatic can vary from person to person. There are many different harmful or life-threatening events that might cause someone to develop PTSD. For example:
- being involved in a car crash
- being violently attacked
- being raped or sexually assaulted
- being abused, harassed or bullied
- being kidnapped or held hostage
- seeing other people hurt or killed, including in the course of your job
- doing a job where you repeatedly see distressing images or hear details of traumatic events
- traumatic childbirth, either as a mother or a partner witnessing a traumatic birth
- extreme violence or war, including military combat
- surviving a terrorist attack
- surviving a natural disaster, such as flooding or an earthquake
- being diagnosed with a life-threatening condition
- losing someone close to you in particularly upsetting circumstances
- learning that traumatic events have affected someone close to you (sometimes called secondary trauma)
- any event in which you fear for your life.
PTSD is diagnosed after a person experiences symptoms for at least one month following a traumatic event. However symptoms may not appear until several months or even years later. The disorder is characterized by three main types of symptoms:
- Flashbacks: re-experiencing the trauma through intrusive distressing recollections of the event, flashbacks, and nightmares.
- Lack of emotion: emotional numbness and avoidance of places, people, and activities that are reminders of the trauma.
- Increased arousal: such as difficulty sleeping and concentrating, feeling jumpy, and being easily irritated and angered.
Panic attacks: a feeling of intense fear, with shortness of breath, dizziness, sweating, nausea and racing heart.
Physical symptoms: chronic pain, headaches, stomach pain, diarrhea, tightness or burning in the chest, muscle cramps or low back pain.
Feelings of mistrust: losing trust in others and thinking the world is a dangerous place.
Problems in daily living: having problems functioning in your job, at school, or in social situations.
Substance abuse: using drugs or alcohol to cope with the emotional pain.
Relationship problems: having problems with intimacy, or feeling detached from your family and friends.
Depression: persistent sad, anxious or empty mood; loss of interest in once-enjoyed activities; feelings of guilt and shame; or hopelessness about the future. Other symptoms of depression may also develop.
Suicidal thoughts: thoughts about taking one’s own life. If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, chat online at http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ or call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
PTSD Treatment & Therapy
PTSD therapy has three main goals:
- Improve your symptoms
- Teach you skills to deal with it
- Restore your self-esteem
Most PTSD therapies fall under the umbrella of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). The idea is to change the thought patterns that are disturbing your life. This might happen through talking about your trauma or concentrating on where your fears come from.
Do you think you are experiencing PTSD?
Sometimes family members and friends may not be able to offer you the support that you would like. It may be that they don’t know what would be most helpful and that they are themselves too upset to help, or that the problems resulting from the PTSD make it too hard to be supportive. If you need more help talking to them, or if your family has a difficult time when you do tell them, you should seek help from a mental health professional who can help you cope with the specific challenges that you are having.
Collaborative Therapeutic Services (CTS) seeks to maximize clients’ options by offering a variety of services, hours, and service providers with diverse specializations. We offer evening & weekend appointments. Have questions? Contact Us Here or Call 813-951-7346. Located in Tampa, Florida.