Recovering from a traumatic event can be tough and time-consuming. What works for one individual may not work for another. This is because people react to stress in different ways, and the ramifications of trauma can be complex. Your hypothalamus, pituitary, and adrenal systems unleash a flood of chemicals in response to a stressful occurrence, preparing you to fight, run, or freeze.
Your heart rate quickens, your breathing quickens, and your muscles stiffen in response. It is possible that your range of vision may narrow, your short-term memory will go blank, and you will feel panicked. Trauma can have physiological, neurological, and emotional consequences, some of which are temporary and others that last a long time.
You may have post-traumatic stress disorder if the symptoms of trauma do not go away or disturb your daily life (PTSD). Around 10% to 20% of persons who have been through a traumatic event will acquire PTSD symptoms as a result. Here is what we know about PTSD treatment options and what research says about how effective various treatments are.
What is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and how does it affect you?
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental illness that affects certain people after they witness or experience a terrible event. Combat, a natural disaster, a vehicle accident, or sexual assault are all examples of stressful events that might be life-threatening. However, the incident does not always have to be dangerous. For example, the sudden death of a loved one might be distressing. Most people naturally recover from this over time. People with PTSD, on the other hand, do not feel any better. Long after the trauma has passed, they are agitated and terrified. PTSD symptoms may appear later in some circumstances. They might also come and go with the passage of time.
PTSD Signs and Symptoms
- Avoidance issue
- Changes in Personality
- Mood Changes
You believed it had passed you by. It is natural to believe that your mind and body have healed and moved on after a terrible occurrence. Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, on the other hand, can appear months or even years later.
PTSD, unlike a rash or a broken arm, is difficult to detect, especially when it occurs in your own head. PTSD is different from despair or fury, despite the similarities in appearance and symptoms. And it can have an impact on everything from your sleeping habits to your personal and professional connections.
If you recognize any of these symptoms in yourself, consult your doctor for a diagnosis.
Memories of the traumatic experience can annoy you whether you are thinking about it or not. You may have nightmares about them while sleeping or flashbacks during the day. That is, you relive the incident as if it were taking place for the first time.
You may feel nervous, fearful, guilty, or suspicious because of both. Chills, shivering, headaches, heart palpitations, and panic attacks are all physical manifestations of these feelings.
You do not want to consider it. You do not want to discuss it. You avoid anyone or everything that brings up memories of the event, including places and activities. Avoidance can also refer to avoiding people in general, not only those involved in the event. This can make you feel isolated and detached.
- Changes in Personality
These are known as “arousal symptoms” by doctors. They can amplify your feelings or cause you to behave in ways you would not usually. If you are a cautious driver, for example, you can start driving excessively fast or be overly aggressive on the road. A lot of people have irrational, angry outbursts.
Many people have trouble concentrating. Feelings of danger and being attacked might impair attention and prevent you from completing daily duties. Whether or not you are having nightmares, this can make it difficult to sleep.
- Mood Changes
PTSD does not always manifest itself in the form of nightmares or flashbacks. It may appear that the mood shift is unrelated to the traumatic incident.
You will recognize it by its pessimism. You can feel gloomy, numb, or self-conscious about yourself or others. Suicide thoughts might come and go. Deep sentiments of shame and guilt are also frequent.
You can lose interest in activities that you used to enjoy. Your desire to stay connected with close friends and relatives may be waning.
What are the PTSD therapy options?
A great deal of study has been done on PTSD. A few drugs and therapeutic techniques have been demonstrated to be useful in the treatment of this condition.
Let us take a closer look at each of these treatment options:
- at-home coping tools
- neurological therapies
The advantages of therapy
Some forms of therapy may be beneficial in the treatment of PTSD symptoms. The following are some of the potential advantages of therapy:
- Anxiety is lessened, and depressive symptoms are lessened.
- lowering the likelihood of a return of depression symptoms
- enhancing skills required for day-to-day tasks
Psychotherapy, commonly known as talk therapy, is an effective treatment for PTSD in some cases. Most of them are based on cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which is a type of talk therapy aimed at identifying and correcting problematic and unrealistic thought patterns.
Cognitive processing therapy (CPT) is based on the concept that you were unable to fully understand what happened to you immediately after a traumatic event. You may later come to unhealthy conclusions because of your efforts to comprehend the experience and how it influenced you.
For example, you can determine that trusting anyone is risky, or you might assume that you are to fault for what happened. CPT seeks to discover these erroneous judgments and reconstruct them in a healthier manner. This type of therapy typically lasts 12 sessions, during which you and your therapist work together to process what happened by discussing or writing about what happened.
Exposure therapy for a long time
Prolonged exposure therapy, like CPT, addresses the tendency to develop problem thinking habits following a stressful incident.
For example, you may have formed a fear response that is out of proportion to the hazards you experience because of trauma. Prolonged exposure therapy begins with some information about PTSD symptoms to change your fear reaction. Your therapist will teach you how to relax and cope when confronted with a terrifying situation. You and your therapist will establish a hierarchy of anxieties after you have learned self-calming techniques.
You will start with mildly frightening items and work your way up to more acute fears, potentially related to the trauma you encountered. You and your therapist will not go on to the next level of your hierarchy until you and your therapist are confident that you can handle each one.
Over the course of several months of therapy, you and your therapist will collaborate to help you confront your concerns and learn new coping techniques. You will discover that your trauma-related thoughts and memories are not genuinely dangerous and do not need to be ignored.
Therapies for the nervous system
Many of PTSD’s long-term consequences are neurological. As a result, treatments that target the brain and neurological system have proven to be particularly helpful in restoring function and lowering symptoms.
Desensitization and reprocessing of eye movement (EMDR)
Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is a therapy that involves interrupting and re-patterning some of your trauma-related memories with repetitive eye movements. After discussing your past, you and your therapist will choose a memory that is particularly challenging for you. Your therapist will take you through a series of side-to-side eye motions while you recall the nuances of that recollection. You will progressively be able to reframe that recollection in a more positive perspective as you learn to understand the memory and the sensations it evokes.
Technique for emotional liberation (tapping)
The clinical emotional freedom method (CEFT) is a therapeutic approach that includes tapping as one of its components (EFT). It is comparable to acupressure, a type of massage that relieves pain and muscular stress by applying physical pressure to specific sensitive areas on the skin. A qualified therapist can teach you how to tap certain beats on your hands, head, face, and collarbones while actively rephrasing your recollections of a horrific experience over the course of 4 to 10 sessions.
Tapping is frequently used in conjunction with other therapies such as cognitive and exposure. EFT therapies have been shown in studies to improve PTSD symptoms, particularly anxiety, despair, and pain. EFT techniques may also help to reduce cortisol (a stress hormone) levels in the body. Although you can eventually use tapping on your own, it is crucial to master the skills with the help of a qualified, certified therapist.
Certain antidepressants are recommended by the American Psychological Association (APA) for the treatment of PTSD symptoms. The APA states that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as paroxetine (Paxil), fluoxetine (Prozac), and sertraline are the most prescribed drugs for PTSD treatment (Zoloft). It is worth noting that the only SSRIs approved by the FDA to treat PTSD are paroxetine and sertraline.
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