Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is a complex set of symptoms that cause discomfort and interfere with daily life. While PTSD was initially identified in soldiers returning from war zones, it can develop after any traumatic experience. Individuals who have experienced automobile or other accidents, natural disasters, childhood abuse, or any type of trauma may develop PTSD. We typically think of these experiences as the “Big T’s in life, but the “Little T” experiences which caused fear, shame, humiliation can also be connected to the discomfort. Similarly, witnessing traumatic events taking place or learning that a traumatic event has happened to a close family member or friend can lead to the development of PTSD.
Symptoms of PTSD (as listed in the DSM-5) include:
- Recurrent, involuntary, and intrusive distressing memories of the traumatic event
- Recurring distressing dreams in which the content and/or emotion of the dream are related to the traumatic event
- Flashbacks, reactions in which you feel or act as if the traumatic event is recurring
- Avoidance of distressing memories, thoughts, or feelings about the traumatic event
- Avoidance of external reminders (people, places, conversations, activities, situations) that arouse distressing memories, thoughts, or feelings about the traumatic event
- Inability to remember an important aspect of the traumatic event
- Persistent and exaggerated negative beliefs or expectations about yourself, others, or the world
- Persistent negative emotions such as fear, horror, anger, guilt, or shame
- Lack of interest or participation in significant activities
- Feelings of detachment or estrangement from others
- Persistent inability to experience positive emotions
- Irritable behavior and angry outbursts
- Reckless or self-destructive behavior
- Exaggerated startle response
- Problems with concentration
- Sleep disturbance
In working to reduce the symptoms of PTSD, a multi-faceted treatment approach is often necessary. This can include utilizing a team of professionals such as a psychiatrist and/or physician along with your mental health provider. In my work, I also use an individualized treatment approach that includes methods such as EMDR. LENS NEUROFEEDBACK, HYPNOSIS, EFT and BAUD.
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