June is PTSD Awareness Month
First, let's start with some facts about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
PTSD is the development of symptoms after a traumatic event that continues for at least one month. PTSD does not discriminate against age, sex, or race. This means anyone can fall victim to a traumatic event and develop PTSD.
PTSD affects about 8 million Americans.
A traumatic event that may trigger PTSD can include, but is not limited to, car accidents, rape, physical or sexual abuse or other crimes, or natural disasters. It's important to note that every person involved in a traumatic event may not necessarily develop PTSD as there are certain criteria that need to be present for a diagnosis.
Signs and Symptoms
Someone with PTSD may experience intrusive memories or flashbacks, emotional numbness, sleep disturbances, anxiety, guilt, sadness, irritability, outbursts of anger and dissociative experiences. They may also have bad dreams, avoid places or people that remind them of the traumatic event, and have physical arousal changes like sweating or difficulty breathing. Changes in thoughts and emotions after the traumatic event are natural consequences of the body's response to stress.
There are ways to help individuals suffering with PTSD. The most common ways are education, medication and psychotherapy.
Education is important for understanding PTSD, eliminating shame and guilt surrounding the traumatic event, and understanding that PTSD is a medically recognized disorder. Education is not only for the individual with PTSD but for friends and family, too.
The U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved two medications for the treatment of PTSD. Adults may find help, when collaborating with their healthcare providers, from sertraline (Zoloft) and paroxetine (Paxtil), which are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).
Last, but certainly not least, psychotherapy. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) in particular has been effective in treated PTSD with its use of exposure, cognitive restructuring and stress inoculation training. Other therapies like eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) which focuses on sounds and eye movement may be helpful in processing traumatic material. Psychodynamic therapy has also been used to treat PTSD through the retelling of the traumatic event. It can help the survivor obtain a greater sense of self-esteem and helps deal with intense emotions that occur in and outside of therapy.
Although PTSD is a difficult journey to experience, there are many ways to get help. To find mental health professionals near you, visit https://www.psychologytoday.com/us