Navigating through life, regardless of who you are, can be extremely trying at times. For some, one or more traumatic experiences might be suffered or witnessed, such as the loss of a loved one, a natural disaster, physical and/or sexual abuse, combat exposure, and other similarly upsetting events. When this occurs, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can develop, leading to a number of side effects that require thorough and effective treatment to overcome.
Someone who is currently struggling with PTSD can experience dramatic life changes as a result of their condition. All areas of their lives can become negatively affected, leading to the development of additional mental health conditions including but not limited to depression, anxiety, and substance use disorder.
Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
The symptoms that one with PTSD can display can vary based on the kind of trauma or traumas that he or she has experienced, however the following are among the most common:
- Intrusive thoughts regarding the traumatic event(s)
- Flashbacks and nightmares
- Feelings of detachment from one’s surroundings
- Hopelessness, depression
- Feelings of guilt
- Problems sleeping
For most individuals, these symptoms will most likely begin to develop within three months post the traumatic event. However, some individuals can continue on with life for months or years without experiencing symptoms.
Who Does PTSD Affect?
PTSD is one of the most commonly diagnosed mental health conditions. Military veterans are not the only people who may develop PTSD, though they are at increased risk. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 11% to 20% of veterans who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and/or Operation Enduring Freedom were diagnosed with PTSD within a given year. The Gulf War left nearly 12% of veterans with PTSD, while the Vietnam War caused PTSD in 30% of veterans for that war. However, make no mistake that while PTSD is a major mental health concern for U.S. troops, they are by no means the only population that is impacted by this devastating condition.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has also conducted research on other demographic groups and their experiences with PTSD. According to the VA, roughly 7% to 8% of the American population will suffer from PTSD at one time in their lives, with 10% of women experiencing it in comparison to 4% of men. As with most mental health conditions, these are estimated numbers, as many individuals unfortunately do not speak out about their symptoms or seek treatment.
What Does Treatment for PTSD Look Like?
Since PTSD can occur in anyone at any time, it is imperative that early intervention occur quickly to help prevent that individual from suffering for any longer. With PTSD impacting such a wide range of people, including war veterans and those who were involved in terrorist attacks to women who survived domestic abuse and individuals who overcame life challenges such as poverty, there are a number of treatments options to help each person in need.
In most cases, those who are searching for a way to overcome PTSD are able to do so therapeutic approaches such as cognitive behavioral therapy. Also commonly referred to as CBT, cognitive behavioral therapy is a therapeutic modality that helps patients control their emotions and thoughts surrounding a traumatic event in a manner that allows them to have a stronghold over the fear that develops when the symptoms of PTSD present themselves. Another highly effective form of therapy for people who have PTSD, is Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). This technique encourages the individual to move their eyes quickly from side to side while bringing up the traumatic event itself and processing through it with a therapist. While experts are unsure why exactly this process works, it has had life-changing positive results for many.
Additional methods of treating PTSD in all populations can include hypnosis, stress management therapy, and the use of medications such as antidepressants, benzodiazepines, and dopamine-blocking agents.
If you or someone that you love is living with PTSD and needs help to overcome the challenges this condition presents, please contact Life Healing Center for more information today. We can provide the appropriate care that will help you or your loved one to effectively defeat the symptoms of PTSD that have been negatively impacting in your life.