Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it. According to the American Psychiatric Association, PTSD affects approximately 3.5 percent of U.S. adults every year. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares, severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event.
There are several types of PTSD: intrusive memories, avoidance, negative changes in thinking and mood, and changes in physical and emotional reactions. Intrusive memories involve recurrent, unwanted distressing memories of the traumatic event. Avoidance is trying to avoid thinking or talking about the traumatic event. Negative changes in thinking and mood can include negative feelings about oneself or others, hopelessness about the future, and difficulty maintaining close relationships. Changes in physical and emotional reactions may include being easily startled or frightened, self-destructive behavior, and trouble sleeping or concentrating.
Symptoms of PTSD can cause significant problems in social or work situations and in relationships. They can also interfere with your ability to go about your normal daily tasks. PTSD symptoms are generally grouped into four types: intrusive memories, avoidance, negative changes in thinking and mood, and changes in physical and emotional reactions. Symptoms can vary over time or vary from person to person. If you or someone you know is struggling with these symptoms, it’s crucial to seek professional help.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can develop after an individual experiences or witnesses a life-threatening event, such as military combat, a natural disaster, a car accident, or sexual assault. Not everyone who experiences such events develops PTSD, and it’s unclear why some people develop the disorder while others do not. However, certain factors may make you more likely to develop PTSD, such as experiencing intense or long-lasting trauma, having experienced other trauma earlier in life, or having a job that increases your risk of being exposed to traumatic events.
Diagnosing PTSD requires a thorough evaluation by a mental health professional. The assessment usually involves a detailed discussion about the traumatic event and the symptoms that have followed. The healthcare provider may use the criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association. It’s important to note that symptoms must last more than a month and be severe enough to interfere with relationships or work to be considered PTSD. Once someone has been diagnosed with PTSD, there are many options for treatment. Some of these include:
If you’re dealing with PTSD, know that effective treatment is available and recovery is possible. In Atlanta, several mental health clinics offer evidence-based treatments for PTSD, including cognitive processing therapy (CPT), prolonged exposure (PE) therapy, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), and medication management. These treatments aim to reduce PTSD symptoms, improve quality of life, and help individuals regain a sense of control over their lives. Don’t wait to seek help – reach out to a healthcare provider in Atlanta today to start your journey towards recovery.