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PTSD

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder1

Witnessing someone being badly hurt or killed, involvement in a fire, flood, earthquake, severe hurricane, or other natural disaster, involvement in a life-threatening accident (workplace explosion or transportation accident), military combat and other stressors caused intentionally by human beings (genocide, rape, torture, abuse, etc.): The patient has been exposed to a catastrophic event involving actual or threatened death or injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of the self or others. During exposure to the trauma, intense fear, feeling helpless, confusion or horror mark the person’s emotional responses to manifest later in life.

Traumatic memories have two distinctive characteristics:

1) they can be triggered by stimuli that remind the patient of the traumatic event
2) they have a “frozen” or wordless quality, consisting of images and sensations rather than verbal descriptions.

Avoidant symptoms: The patient attempts to reduce the possibility of exposure to anything that might trigger memories of the trauma, and to minimize his or her reactions to such memories. This cluster of symptoms includes feeling disconnected from other people, psychic numbing, and avoidance of places, persons, or things associated with the trauma. Patients with PTSD are at increased risk of substance abuse as a form of self-medication to numb painful memories.

Hyperarousal: Hyperarousal is a condition in which the patient’s nervous system is always on “red alert” for the return of danger. This symptom cluster includes hypervigilance, insomnia, difficulty concentrating, general irritability, and an extreme startle response– a frequent but not always apparent symptom of PTSD, nor is it solely required in diagnosis.

Significance: The patient suffers from significant social, interpersonal, or work-related problems as a result of the PTSD symptoms. A common social symptom of PTSD is a feeling of disconnection from other people (including loved ones), from the larger society, and from spiritual or other significant sources of meaning. These symptoms are normal responses to trauma.

What others do:

One coping strategy includes “critical incident stress management” – a system of interventions designed to help emergency/disaster response workers and public safety personnel.

Other treatment methods used with patients who have already developed PTSD include:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy. There are two treatment approaches to PTSD included under this heading: exposure therapy, which seeks to desensitize the patient to reminders of the trauma; and anxiety management training, which teaches the patient strategies for reducing anxiety.

These strategies may include: relaxation training, biofeedback, social skills training, distraction techniques, or cognitive restructuring.

  • Psychodynamic psychotherapy. This method helps the patient recover a sense of self and learn new coping strategies and ways to deal with intense emotions related to the trauma. Typically, it consists of three phases: 1) establishing a sense of safety for the patient; 2) exploring the trauma itself in depth; 3) helping the patient re-establish connections with family, friends, the wider society, and other sources of meaning.

  • Discussion groups or peer-counseling groups. These groups are usually formed for survivors of specific traumas, such as combat, rape/incest, and natural disasters. They help patients to recognize that other survivors of the shared experience have had the same emotions and reacted to the trauma in similar ways.

  • Family Therapy. This form of treatment is recommended for PTSD patients whose family life has been affected by the PTSD symptoms.

  • Spiritual/religious counseling. Because traumatic experiences often affect patients’ spiritual views and beliefs, counseling with a trusted religious or spiritual advisor may be part of a treatment plan.

  • Traumatic Incident Reduction. This is a technique in which the patient treats the trauma like a videotape and “runs through” it repeatedly with the therapist until all negative emotions have been discharged, reducing the patient’s hyperarousal.


 

How We Handle It

We call it “Post Traumatic Stress” (or “PTS”) Therapy; our methods have been in use since before the inceptions of Exposure and TIR therapies. Therefore, our therapy already includes the cognitive-behavioral and psychodynamic approaches. We start with a group meeting for initial understanding of PTSD, then continue on an individual therapy basis. Family and spiritual issues are always addressed and handled to a successful, happy outcome.

The other therapies may be fine for getting “surface” tensions removed, but will, and do, fall short of getting the core discomforts and issues handled. PTS Therapy works on the core with a two-fold approach: reduce, and even eliminate, the hyperarousal AND immediately, painlessly and calmly discover and eliminate the hidden confusions, beliefs and terrors that drive the uncontrollableness of the trauma with biofeedback guidance.

The results are a calmer, happier individual who can get along anywhere with anyone, at will.

There is relief today. Don’t wait another one.

Call 510-337-0423 to schedule your emergency session.

You deserve the best treatment yesterday. Call now.

 

For more information on the severity of this problem, read the following article:

“In 2005, More than 17 Vets a day were committing suicide in the US”


1. Adapted from: Gale Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders(2003), by Rebecca J. Frey (see http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_gx5197/is_2003/ai_n19119486)