The National Institute of Mental Health defines post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a condition resulting from experiencing extreme trauma. Most people associate PTSD with soldiers returning from combat. Although the disorder is prominent among military personal, anyone who has suffered a trauma can experience PTSD. Extreme trauma comes from extreme fear caused by a situation where a person feels threatened or helpless. Besides military combat, there are many situations that can cause this level of fear or anxiety. Some examples include the following:
Understanding the differences between a normal response to trauma and PTSD can help you or a loved one get help.
Anyone who experiences a traumatic event will have symptoms of trauma-related stress. The main difference between PTSD and trauma-related stress is one tends to get worse over time and the other tends to dissipate. Feeling disconnected or numb, feelings of extreme sadness, bad dreams, fears and the inability to stop thinking about the event are all normal responses to trauma. With time, these feelings and emotions gradually lessen as the person learns to cope with the event in healthy ways. But in the case of PTSD, symptoms increase rather than decrease. In some cases, symptoms of PTSD appear long after the event or come and go over time. Often an activity will trigger the memory and send the person struggling with PTSD into a state of extreme fear or anxiety. Helpguide.org lists the following as classic symptoms of PTSD:
If you or a loved one has experienced any of these symptoms, it’s time to get help.
Those who struggle with PTSD often feel as if they will never be more than just a victim. Learning to cope with symptoms and overcome them in healthy ways makes living a normal life possible. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, National Center for PTSD, recommends using active coping to deal with the symptoms of PTSD. Active coping involves accepting the impact of the trauma and taking direct action to improve your life. Active coping is ongoing and occurs even when there is no current crisis. It is a way of life and a habit that must be strengthened on a regular basis in order for healing to take place. Getting into treatment is an important first step in active coping. Recognizing that you or a loved one will have good days and bad days is also important. Accepting that recovery is a process not a destination makes actively coping with the symptoms of PTSD more manageable.
There are several types of therapy that are appropriate for the treatment of PTSD. Any or all of these can take place on an inpatient or outpatient basis depending on your unique situation. Your intake counselor will help you understand your insurance coverage and benefits for PTSD and other mental health treatment. The recommends the following as appropriate and effective treatments for PTSD:
Medications can also help in the treatment of PTSD. Antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications and medication used to specifically suppress nightmares may be helpful for some people. It is important to combine medication with talk-therapy treatments so that the person struggling can gain control of their emotions and memories in healthy ways.
PTSD happens as a result of extreme trauma. Learning to cope with the memories of the trauma can help you or a loved one learn to live life as more than just a victim. If you are struggling with the symptoms of PTSD, we are here for you. Call our toll-free helpline 24 hours a day to speak to an admissions coordinator about available treatment options.