Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a disorder that is caused by experiencing or witnessing a shocking, frightening or life-threatening event. Any individual who lives through a traumatic event may feel defensive and a “fight-or-flight” response. However, when the symptoms continue long after the event, it may be PTSD. An individual with PTSD often feels stressed or afraid even when they are completely safe.
PTSD can only be diagnosed by a doctor who has experience assisting patients with a mental illness – a psychologist or psychiatrist. If you or someone you love is feeling one of the following symptoms, please consult a professional at the Advantage Mental Health Center.
- A re-experiencing symptom (i.e., flashbacks to the traumatic event, nightmares, frightening thoughts)
- An avoidance symptom (i.e., staying away from certain places or objects that can trigger memories of the experience or avoiding thoughts or feelings related to the incident)
- Several arousal/reactivity symptoms (i.e., being easily startled, feeling tense, difficulty sleeping or angry outbursts) or numbness (which is also arousal, just hypo-arousal)
- Several cognition or mood symptoms (i.e., difficulty recalling important moments related to the incident; negative thoughts about him or herself; distorted feelings including guilt, shame or blame; loss of interest in activities that used to be enjoyable)
Although it is completely normal for an individual to have any of these or several of these symptoms after a traumatic event, normally these symptoms should go away. When the symptoms persist, it can severely affect a person’s daily life and can lead to other mental disorders, like substance abuse. Getting the necessary help can completely alter the course of a person’s life.
Treatments for PTSD may include:
- Medication (i.e., antidepressants)
- Psychotherapy (i.e., talk therapy in a one-on-one or group setting)
At times, one or both of these methods are used to treat PTSD. Because this disorder is not universal and affects every patient differently, an experienced mental health practitioner will assess the symptoms and extent of the trauma in order to develop the appropriate treatment plan. The most important step to getting better is seeking help. Contact a mental health professional at Advantage Mental Health Center today. It may not happen overnight, but with time, treatment and/or medication we can help you get back to living your life!