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What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a common mental health issue, triggered by witnessing or experiencing events like natural disasters, severe accidents, acts of terrorism, wartime combat, life-threatening situations, sexual violence, or sustaining a serious injury. 

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, PTSD affects around 7 million adults in the US.

PTSD is not exclusive to soldiers or sexual assault survivors, as often depicted in media. Anyone, irrespective of age or economic background, can develop PTSD.

The American Psychiatric Association suggests that PTSD affects women twice as much as men. Also, the occurrence of PTSD tends to be higher in Latino, Black American, and Indigenous American communities. Nonetheless, this mental health issue can affect anyone who experienced trauma.

Remember, PTSD is not a life sentence – it’s a wound, and wounds can be treated and healed. You are not alone and you are not defined by your trauma. At our psychiatric clinic, we see you. Not just your hurt or your trauma, but the strong, resilient individual who is so much more than this disorder.

 

What is Complex PTSD and how is it different from PTSD?

Complex PTSD (C-PTSD) is a persistent form of PTSD typically resulting from extended traumatic experiences such as childhood abuse. People with C-PTSD often experience memory lapses and a feeling of detachment from themselves, alongside the usual symptoms of PTSD.

The risk of developing complex PTSD increases with certain factors

  • Exposure to trauma at a young age
  • Prolonged duration of traumatic experiences
  • Limited or absent possibilities for escape or rescue
  • Multiple traumatic incidents
  • Harm inflicted by a person close or trusted

Symptoms

PTSD symptoms often fall into four categories:

  1. Intrusion: Includes instances of flashbacks or nightmares relating to the trauma, causing physical reactions such as rapid heartbeat or sweating.

  2. Avoidance: Typically involves steering clear of triggers that might evoke panic or memories of the past event. This could also entail avoiding movies or other media reminding of the traumatic experience.
  3. Arousal and reactivity: PTSD sufferers might experience constant stress or anger, referred to as arousal symptoms. Reactivity pertains whether the individual becomes easily startled or feels on edge, potentially leading to sleep problems or detrimental coping mechanisms.
  4. Changes in thoughts and moods: PTSD can alter thought processes and mood. This might manifest as distrust towards others, negative self-perception, or constantly feeling “on guard”.

Understanding the diverse ways PTSD can manifest helps in recognizing the signs in oneself or others and can be the first step towards seeking help.

How do we treat PTSD?

Diagnosis

A PTSD diagnosis requires very specific criteria because it tends to overlap or be misidentified as similar conditions. When assessing for PTSD, our highly experienced psychiatrists, employ a detailed examination of the patient’s history and symptoms.

Medication Management

One of the common treatment methods recommended by our psychiatrists includes the use of antidepressants. Some types of antidepressants successfully used in managing PTSD symptoms include Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs) and Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs).

Therapy

Trauma-focused therapies have proven to be effective PTSD treatments. These sessions typically last between 8 to 16 visits, depending on the patient’s status and progress. The therapies involve exploring trauma in a safe space and developing coping strategies.