Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

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Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental disorder that can occur in individuals who have witnessed or experienced a terrifying or a life-threatening event. It is natural to feel afraid after a traumatic event, but individuals with PTSD may feel stressed or frightened even without any danger in sight. The brain disorder should be treated by certified healthcare professionals in post-traumatic stress disorder treatment centers and a treatment plan for PTSD may involve medications, psychotherapy or both.

Anyone, irrespective of age or gender, can develop PTSD, but not everyone diagnosed with PTSD has faced a dangerous event. According to the National Center for PTSD, undergoing a trauma is common. In the United States, about 60 percent men and 50 percent women experience some form of trauma in their lives. The center also reported that in a given year about 8 million adults experience PTSD. While women are more likely to experience sexual assault or child sexual abuse, men are more likely to experience physical assault, combat, injury, death or accidents.

PTSD: Symptoms

PTSD symptoms can set in soon after the traumatic event, but they may not surface even months or years later. To classify as PTSD, symptoms must last for more than a month and should be severe enough to interfere with one’s relationships or work-life. Although personal factors, including previous traumatic exposure, can increase an individual’s chance of developing PTSD, what happens after the traumatic event is also an important factor. In addition to this, stressful events can also contribute to PTSD.

PTSD symptoms can vary in intensity over time and differ from person to person. While some individuals can recover within six months, others can have symptoms that last much longer. In some cases, PTSD conditions can even become chronic.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), PTSD symptoms can be classified into four categories: avoidance symptoms, arousal and reactive symptoms, re-experiencing symptoms, and cognition and mood symptoms.

  • Avoidance symptoms include avoiding thoughts or feelings related to a traumatic event and staying away from objects, places or events that serve as reminders of the trauma.
  • Arousal and reactive symptoms include feeling tense and being easily startled.
  • Re-experiencing symptoms include bad dreams, frightening thoughts and flashbacks of trauma.
  • Cognition and mood symptoms include distorted feelings, negative thoughts about oneself and the world, and loss of interest in enjoyable activities.
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PTSD: Causes and risk factors

Although people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event are more prone to developing PTSD, it is important to remember that not everyone experiencing such events develop PTSD. Just like other mental health problems, PTSD can be caused by a combination of factors.

Causes of PTSD

  • stressful experiences
  • inherited mental health risks
  • personality factors
  • brain response to stressful events 

Risk factors for PTSD

  • feeling hopeless or extremely fearful
  • getting hurt or seeing another person hurt
  • living through traumatic events
  • history of mental illness or substance abuse
  • trauma faced during childhood
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PTSD: Diagnosis

Diagnosis of PTSD requires exposure to an event involving actual or possible threat of death, violence or serious injury. To diagnose a PTSD, a trained mental health professional follow certain steps. They are:

  • Physical examination: A doctor may perform a physical examination to check for medical problems that may cause PTSD symptoms.
  • Psychological evaluation: During a psychological evaluation, a doctor may discuss signs and symptoms of the illness and the events that led to the problem.
  • Criteria used in DSM-5: The criteria outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5) may help a healthcare professional determine causes behind PTSD.

As per the DSM-5, published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA), PTSD is a trauma and stress-related disorder with eight criteria – stressor, intrusion, avoidance, negative alteration in mood, arousal and reactivity, duration, clinically significant distress, and criteria not attributed to the effects of substance abuse or other medical condition.

Following components are included in the DSM-5 criteria.

  • directly experiencing traumatic event
  • witnessing a traumatic event, in person
  • memories of traumatic event
  • distressing dreams related to traumatic event
  • avoidance of distressing memories or external reminders of traumatic event
  • feeling detachment or estrangement from others
  • irritability or anger outbursts
  • inability to recall important aspect of trauma
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Treatment with Sovereign Health

To prevent PTSD symptoms from getting worse, it is imperative to get timely treatment. PTSD treatment programs may involve medications, psychotherapy or both.

Medications

As per the NIMH, medications like antidepressants can help improve PTSD symptoms like sadness, anger and worry. Medicines can also help overcome nightmares, fears and sleep problems.

Psychotherapy

In addition to approved medications, several types of psychotherapies or talk therapies may help treat children and adults with PTSD. While some psychotherapies target PTSD symptoms directly, others focus on social, family or job-related problems. Certain types of psychotherapy used in PTSD treatment plan include individual and family therapy, group therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), including cognitive restructuring, exposure therapy, and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR).

  • Individual, Group and Family Therapies:
    • Individual therapy: During this therapy, an individual is engaged in a self-reflective process on his or her emotions and behaviors. It focuses on the development of a one-to-one relationship with the therapist.
    • Group therapy: It rests on the dynamic interaction among members of the group. The emphasis is on helping the participants understand the projection that they have toward other members while learning from others’ feedback.
    • Family therapy: Usually provided by a psychologist, clinical social worker or licensed therapist, family therapy helps family members improve communication and resolve conflicts.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: A short-term and goal-oriented therapy, it helps in recognizing one’s way of thinking. Its goal is to change one’s thinking or behavior pattern by focusing on one’s thoughts, images and beliefs. CBT can include cognitive restructuring and exposure therapy. While cognitive restructuring helps people make sense of their bad memories, exposure therapy helps people face and control their fears.
  • EMDR Therapy: EMDR combines exposure therapy with a series of guided eye movements. It helps the brain work through traumatic memories by focusing on sounds or hand movements when the patient talks about the trauma.

PTSD rehab: Sovereign Health offerings

At Sovereign Health, we understand how difficult it may be to live with constant nightmares and fears. To achieve a comprehensive treatment for PTSD symptoms, Sovereign Health combines pharmacological and non-pharmacological modalities. In addition to individual, group, family therapies and CBT, neurofeedback, Sovereign Health also offers experiential therapy, such as meditation, yoga, equine therapy and rock to recovery. The treatment programs offered here are evidence-based and have been clinically proven effective.

Following are the therapies offered at Sovereign Health:

Neurofeedback: Another approach to treating addiction or mental illness, neurofeedback involves retraining the brain to react differently to stimuli brought on by the environment.

Experiential Therapy: Useful in recovery from mental health disorders or substance abuse, experiential therapy seeks to address hidden or subconscious problems through real life experiences with the use of guided imagery, role-playing and props. Examples of experiential therapy include equine therapy, recreation therapy, music therapy, art therapy, and many others.

  • Meditation and Yoga: To improve patients’ physical and mental well-being, Sovereign Health offers alternative therapies like yoga and meditation. Known for offering physical, emotional and spiritual benefits, yoga helps those dealing with mental illness or substance use disorders. At Sovereign Health, we also offer mindfulness-based stress reduction therapy.
  • Expressive arts therapy: A therapeutic approach, expressive arts therapy integrates a wide range of arts modalities to develop and heal a person. It combines visual arts, drama, poetry and music to instill deep personal growth and community development among the patients. By integrating the arts processes, it allows patients to express their thoughts nonverbally and communicate more comfortably.
  • Equine therapy: An important part of Sovereign Health’s treatment programs, equine therapy helps in improving self-esteem, interpersonal relationships, happiness, communication skills, self-control, focus, and concentration. Studies have also suggested that equine therapy can help reduce anger, aggression, stress and depression.
  • Rock to Recovery: Offered at Sovereign Health, rock to recovery program helps treat a mental disorder or an addiction. Based on music therapy, the program allows patients to get in touch with their artistic side and express themselves by singing, playing an instrument, or dancing to music.

eTherapy: Sovereign Health offers eTherapy, a form of telehealth, that remotely delivers behavioral health services to patients via video conferencing or text chat. Offered at our intensive outpatient (IOP) and outpatient (OP) levels of care, it allows patients one-on-one therapy sessions through video chat with a computer, smartphone or tablet. For those juggling job, educational, and family obligations, eTherapy offers the freedom and flexibility to patients without compromising on treatment.

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At Sovereign Health, your recovery is our priority. To ensure complete recovery and avoid any relapse, we provide evidence-based treatment for each patient based on his or her treatment needs.

To eliminate any stress that our patients might encounter during the admission process and to ensure that our patients have as many financial options available, we have streamlined the admission and insurance process. We accept most major health insurance plans, including Anthem, BlueCross, BlueShield, Humana, Aetna, Cigna, and many more. We also have well-trained admissions staff to help determine coverage provided by patient’s health care plan and to guide them through the financial aspects of their program.

Comprehensive PTSD treatment programs involve a combination of medications and psychotherapy. However, since PTSD symptoms vary from person to person, PTSD treatment is mainly individualized. At Sovereign Health, we offer tailor-made treatment plan to help treat the disorder and avoid any relapse. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-698-4295 for expert advice on our PTSD residential treatment programs and finest treatment centers for PTSD in the U.S. You can also chat online with our representatives to know about our PTSD treatment facilities near you.