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  • Writer's pictureDan Wethington MS, LPC

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder-PTSD

If you are interested in learning about Posttraumatic stress disorder, its causes, and how we treat PTSD, please continue reading or contact Arise Counseling Services today.

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is most widely known for its impact upon military personel who have experienced traumatic events in the course of their service in the military. Did you know that PTSD can also be a problem for a wide range of other populations such as children or teens who have been abused by parents or bullied by peers, or adults who have been in a bad car accident or been involved in some other shocking and terrifying experience? PTSD can have a huge impact upon a person who has experienced a traumatic event and I will describe some of the symptoms and treatments that I provide at Arise Counseling Services.

PTSD, Running away, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD treatment York PA

What is Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?

PTSD is a mental health disorder that is triggered by a shocking or terrifying experience which creates ongoing challenges with intrusive thoughts and avoidance behaviors that are related to this event. It is possible that PTSD symptoms can endure throughout a person's whole life if they do not receive treatment. The response to a terrifying event can be very unpredictable and there are some people who are able to go through these experiences without having signficant symptoms, and there are some who will have severe symptoms after an event such as this. Some examples of traumatic experiences that I have encountered are combat situations in the military, witnessing violent activities or being the victim of violence, car accidents, abuse in childhood or in an intimate relationship, and being the victim of bullying and peer rejection.

Symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

  • Recurrent, intrusive and involuntary distressing memories associated with a traumatic event. This may manifest as obsessive thoughts, nightmares, flashbacks, or extreme stress when a person is presented with something that reminds them of the traumatic experience.

  • Physiological changes when experiencing the above symptoms such as increased heart rate, respiration rate, trembling, changes to body temperature, etc.

  • Makes efforts to avoid situations that are reminders of the traumatic experience. The person can make an effort to avoid the thoughts and feelings associated with it, and also people, places, and things that remind them of the experience.

  • Negative changes in cognitive and mood states that begin or worsen from the point of the traumatic experience. Some examples of this are lacking a memory of the event or details of it, changes in one's evaluation of themselves, distorted thoughts about the event and why it occurred, feelings of detachment from others, and loss of ability to experience positive emotions.

  • Changes in the arousal and reactivity system of an individual. They may be hypervigilant and always on the lookout for danger, they may be more irritable and prone to violence, they may engage in more reckless behavior, and they may have difficulty concentrating, sleeping, or staying relaxed.

Prevalence of PTSD

It is estimated that about one half of individuals living in the US will experience a traumatic event at some point in their lives, but not all of them will develop PTSD as a result. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, adults have a lifetime prevalence for PTSD of 6.8% and around 5% of adolescents have experienced clinically significant PTSD symptoms. The severity and duration of symptoms can vary from person to person significantly, and males are significantly more likely to experience PTSD than females.

Causes of PTSD

As stated above, PTSD is caused by exposure to a traumatic experience that involves actual or threatened death, bodily injury, or a sexual violation. Researchers are not entirely sure why some people who experience these events are able to escape without experiencing PTSD and some people experience PTSD severely, but they have some ideas about these differences such as a person's temperament, and genetic factors. The degree to which a person has been exposed to other traumatic events also seems to have an impact, and how a person's nervous system regulates stress also is likely to be predictive of the severity of PTSD symptoms.

PTSD Treatment

As stated above, PTSD is caused when a person experiences a traumatic event and has difficulty fully accepting it and moving forward with life. Treatment for PTSD often involves helping a person to process the expereince that they went through and the implications that it has had on their life while simultaneously helping them to recognize, accept, and deal with cognitive distortions that have developed as a result of the trauma. For example, sometimes a person will have few memories of the event until they begin to express themselves in therapy and slowly go through the trauma. Then they might identify that they believe that it is their fault that the trauma occurred, which is seldom the case, and this belief could be worked through in therapy.

At Arise Counseling Services, I provide treatment Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. I want to make it clear that I understand that these traumatic experiences are sensitive and scary areas for many clients and that I always want to give my clients the time that they need to become comfortable with me and comfortable with the idea of opening up about their trauma. After this, I help people to learn how to sooth themselves through relaxation techniques and self care strategies so that they are able to tell the story of their trauma without feeling overwhelmed or re-traumatized. Then, I help them to process the trauma and identify any cognitive distortions that they have developed. I have found that this leads to a reduction and relief of PTSD symptoms for the clients that I have guided through this process.

Treating Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): We will work together to analyze your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors to examine how these impact one another and cause your symptoms to be worse. We will also examine how the traumatic experience has changed the way that you think about yourself and life in general. Then we will work to change how you think about issues in your life and what you believe about yourself and the world.

  • Behavioral activation: We will set up clear behaviors that you can practice to help you to overcome your PTSD such as establishing a more consistent routine, scheduling time to take care of life responsibilities, and trying to address the tasks that you might have been avoiding due to feeling triggered.

  • Treating trauma: When you feel safe and comfortable, we will examine any traumatic experiences that you have had or changes to how you view yourself so that you can stop having the effects of trauma intrude upon your daily life.

  • Improving Interpersonal Relationships: I have found that PTSD causes people to withdraw from their relationships due to self-critical beliefs that they are unworthy of significant attachment relationships or due to general avoidance of being hurt if they were involved in an interpersonal trauma. I work with clients to process these beliefs and work to repair relationships that they have lost and build new positive interpersonal relationships.

  • Narrative therapy: I encourage clients to examine their personal characteristics and life journey and to rewrite their story so that they can change the way that they look at themselves and the trajectory of their lives.

For more information

If you would like to learn more about any of the treatments above, please contact me and I would be happy to help. If you would like some professional help dealing with your PTSD or another mental health concern, feel free to schedule an appointment with me today or reach out to discuss your options. You should also subscribe to my blog and continue to follow because I intend to write more specific posts about the treatments that I use in the future.

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