Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that can develop after someone has experienced a terrifying traumatic situation in which they felt intense fear, horror or helplessness. Among the events that may trigger PTSD are sexual and non-sexual trauma and abuse, car accidents, violence, war/terrorism, natural disasters and other situations that result in your injury, near death or feeling you could be hurt or witnessing injury, death or fear of injury to other people. Your response to these events is horror, helplessness and intense fear.

PTSD can be considered an understandable response to a terrible situation. 

It makes sense that people who have experienced a trauma think about it a lot especially at first. They dream about and feel strong feelings about it. They talk about the experience to people in their support system. They feel afraid that the dangerous situation will happen again. They feel hyperalert to situations and people who remind them of the trauma.

In fact this initial response is an important part of the healing process. Talking about your experiences to people who care about you and validate you helps you to feel less alone and isolated in your response to the trauma. Getting support as you process bad experiences has been found to be integral in healing from trauma.

Some survivors of trauma continue to experience intrusive negative thoughts and feelings related to the trauma that interfere with their life. They continue to feel as if the trauma is present and the danger is still very close. They experience extreme fear and anxiety on a frequent basis. Triggers that remind them of the trauma torment them and make functioning difficult. They vacillate between constantly being in a physiological and psychological fight or flight response and a shut down or freezing response. Life can become very challenging.

Given enough stress and trauma everyone is vulnerable to developing post-traumatic stress disorder.

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What are signs and symptoms of PTSD?

Among the symptoms of PTSD are:

  • Reliving the traumatic situation again and again.
  • Flashbacks where they feel they are back in the traumatic situation with all of the accompanying horror and terror
  • Intrusive negative thoughts and feelings when thinking about or faced with reminders of the trauma
  • Numbing of general responsiveness not present before the trauma
  • Avoidance of situations that remind you of the trauma
  • Sense of hopelessness about the future
  • Increased vigilance, irritability, startle
  • Not being able to function in the important areas of your life

Not everyone who develops PTSD has full blown PTSD all throughout their lives.  They may vary from times when they have less or no symptoms to times of increased symptoms based on factors such as stress, anniversaries of trauma, events that stimulate upsetting thoughts and feelings again.

Included among other problems that can arise along with PTSD are depression, anxiety and addictions such as alcohol and other drug addiction and sex addiction.

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How many people develop PTSD?

Estimates are that almost 8 million American adults age 18 and older, approximately 3.5% of people in this age group, have PTSD.

About one third of people who experience traumatic events develop PTSD in the short term after the trauma. Approximately on third of this group develops chronic PTSD.

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What treatment is available to help clients dealing with PTSD?

Included among the issues addressed in PTSD treatment are:

  • Education about PTSD for the trauma survivor and his or her family
  • Strategies to maintain safety while addressing these issues
  • Exploration of feelings, beliefs and meanings survivors give to the traumatic experience
  • Development and use of effective coping strategies to deal with the aftereffects of trauma
  • Resolution of trauma
  • Abuse counseling
  • Trauma recovery
  • Psychotherapeutic modalities such as cognitive behavioral psychotherapy, psychodynamic treatment, pharmacotherapy, relaxation strategies, individual and couple counseling, group therapy, and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
  • To learn more about EMDR. explore this EMDR Website

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What services do you offer to help someone heal from PTSD?

I provide:

  • A sense of hope and optimism that you do not always have to feel controlled by PTSD .
  • I help you develop and use practical strategies to accomplish the goal of living a good life while you heal from trauma and abuse
  • Assessment and treatment planning
  • Individual psychotherapy for PTSD
  • Counseling for couples and families dealing with the effects of abuse
  • Referral to resources, i.e. group therapy, support services
  • Coordination with other providers if indicated, i.e. medication management, group
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

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Where can I find out more about PTSD?

Explore the Internet Resources List that I have compiled.

Visit Shari’s Blog for articles, news and selected informational videos on these subjects and related topics including:

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How can I contact you for further information?

Here is my Contact Information and Office Information.

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