Most of us acknowledge that life comes with challenges, but some people experience not just stress, sadness, or grief, but an actual trauma. Unfortunately, this comes from events like being involved in a bad car accident, a physical attack, a natural disaster, or war.
Results of such an event are called post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a condition where the mind is unable to process an event as it processes ordinary life events. This results in a brain misfire, causing the person to live much of their life distressed, as if the event were still happening to them.
PTSD is not always a constant state of misfire but often has a specific trigger. Triggers can range, but imagine things like a loud noise (a car door slamming or fireworks), a song, or even a specific phrase.
Symptoms of PTSD
There are many symptoms associated with PTSD, but the most common ones are:
- Psychological and physiological distress at reminders
- Avoidance of internal and external reminders
- Dissociative amnesia
- Negative beliefs about oneself and the world
- Distorted blaming of oneself
- Negative persistent emotional states
- Loss of interests
- Detachment from loved ones
- Hyper vigilance
- Exaggerated startle response
- Difficulty concentrating
- Difficulty sleeping
- Irritability or outbursts of anger
- Self-destructive or reckless behavior
Causes of PTSD
Researchers are not altogether clear on why some people experience PTSD and others don’t. What causes one soldier to come home from war with PTSD and another one not develop the disorder?
With this in mind, the best we can guess is that the development of PTSD is likely from a combination of complex factors such as brain chemistry, life experiences, personality, and genetics. Also worth mentioning, is that pre-traumatic factors (low self-esteem, for example) may increase the risk factor for developing PTSD.
How Do We Treat Trauma?
The most common treatment for PTSD is called cognitive behavioral therapy. CBT teaches strategies and techniques that will reduce and/or eliminate symptoms of PTSD such as recurring negative thoughts, emotional numbness, sleep issues, and concentration problems. In fact, your therapist will offer skills to disrupt the negative cycle.
This kind of therapy is available with specially-trained therapists. Furthermore, we recommend finding an experienced therapist. It’s important to find one you and your family feel comfortable with. Interview several potential candidates to see who might work with you best and who can help you on your journey to wellness.
If you or a loved one are suffering from PTSD and would like to explore treatment options, please be in touch. Mind Spa would be more than happy to help.