Coping and healing after threatening or frightening events, such as witnessing accidents or experiencing sexual, verbal, emotional or physical abuse.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is closely related to anxiety disorders. More than 8 million American adults have PTSD. It is normal for a person to feel fear and a ‘fight or flight’ reaction when experiencing a life-threatening, dangerous or scary situation, including the sudden and unexpected death of a loved one. When specific fear reactions continue beyond a month, and interfere with a person’s functioning, a person may be diagnosed with PTSD. These symptoms include re-experiencing symptoms (e.g., flashbacks, nightmares), avoidance symptoms (e.g., avoiding reminders of the traumatic events including places, events or objects), arousal and reactivity symptoms (e.g., difficulty sleeping, being easily startled), and cognition and mood symptoms (e.g., loss of interest in once pleasurable activities, negative thoughts, feelings of guilt or blame).
Children can develop PTSD and it sometimes looks a little different with behaviors such as bedwetting, having difficulty separating from a parent or caregiver and being clingy, forgetting or not being able to talk, and acting out the traumatic event. Teenagers might show destructive and revengeful behaviors. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is more likely to occur in women than men. Common co-occurring disorders include depression, other anxiety disorders, and substance use.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is treatable with different types of psychotherapy. Effective psychotherapies typically have key components including an educational component to help you understand the symptoms, skills to identify triggers of the symptoms, and skills to enable one to manage symptoms effectively.
Exposure therapy and cognitive restructuring are two types of well-established, effective CBT therapies for PTSD. Exposure therapy involves gradually and safely exposing you to the traumatic event using imagery, writing or visiting the place where the trauma occurred. Cognitive restructuring helps you to develop a heathier and more accurate view of the experience, make sense of the event, and change or heal negative thoughts and feelings.