A young woman continues to re-live a traumatic episode of sexual abuse that occurred when she was a child. As her children approach the age that she was when she was abused, she experiences her feelings of pain, fear, and anger increasing steadily. A military veteran who was in harm’s way overseas returns home to his family. Family members recall how their loved one awakes in the middle of the night from nightmares. The ex-soldier realized that he is experiencing night terrors. He also relives images of horrific acts that he has personally experienced.
For those who suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), stories such as these are far too real and recur all too often. Call Thriveworks Amherst today at (413) 634-4805 to see a PTSD therapist.
Research has revealed that each year approximately 3.5% of Americans exhibit signs of PTSD and that 9% of people develop symptoms of PTSD during some period of their lives. It is also estimated that 0.5% and 1% of people throughout the world suffer from PTSD. This lower rate is most likely due to variations in evaluation methods and diagnostic techniques. It is believed by many experts that in regions where war and violent conflicts are common occurrences, the rates may actually be higher.
Effects of trauma have been recorded throughout history as documented accounts date back to ancient Greece. Traumatic events and their results on people’s emotions and behavior are retold in myths and folklore. The two World Wars saw a significant rise in the documented symptoms and manifestations of PTSD. Terms used such as “shell shock” or “combat neurosis” began to be used and continued to describe symptoms of “posttraumatic stress disorder” inflicting veterans returning from the Korean and Vietnam wars.
Causes of Trauma
PTSD may result from any one of the following traumatic occurrences and situations:
- The unexpected or sudden death of a loved one such as a car accident or suicide
- Experiencing a serious injury (for example, burns, dog attack), life-threatening illness (e.g., cancer) or a major surgery (e.g., heart surgery)
- Undergoing episodes of bullying as a child or adolescent
- Being in harm’s way in combat during active
- Experienced physical and/or sexual abuse either as an adult or child
- Surviving a natural disaster such as a hurricane, flood, fire, or earthquake
- Witnessing a violent or another horrific event
- Surviving automobile or other transportation accident
- The infidelity of a spouse or long-term partner
Signs and Symptoms
Below are a list of signs and symptoms of PTSD:
Re-experiencing symptoms include:
- Flashbacks such as the cognitive and emotional recall of horrific incidents that keep recurring
- Ongoing physical symptoms such as a racing heart, sweating breathing or difficulty
- Horrific dreams and nightmares
- Fearful thoughts that are Persistent and uncontrollable
These physical manifestations get in the way of everyday functioning in a person’s life. Various sights, sounds, even smells can be setting events that trigger the reliving of traumatic experiences and the recurrence of symptoms.
Avoidance symptoms include:
People who suffer may actively stay away from certain places, locations, situations or events. Often, the person suffering from PTSD do not consciously realize that they are avoiding these situations. They may also be avoiding seemingly random objects that generate thoughts or feelings related to the traumatic event.
Arousal and reactivity symptoms include:
- Frequent irritability, agitation, and angry outbursts
- An easily triggered startle reflex
Cognition and mood symptoms include:
- Difficulty recalling important aspects of the traumatic event or not remembering it at all
- Poor self-image often with a corresponding negative outlook toward the world
- Unrealistic sense of guilt and shame
- No longer interested in previously preferred activities
Treatments and Therapies
The preferred treatment PTSD is a combination of medication and psychotherapy. However, there are wide varieties of both medications and therapies that have been effective in the treatment of trauma. But the most important for individuals showing signs of PTSD is to get help from a professional trained and experienced in the implementation of strategies demonstrated to be effective treatment. Research has consistently shown that the sooner someone seeks treatment following a traumatic event, the more likely symptoms will substantially be decreased or even eliminated.
Many types of therapies have demonstrated effectiveness in the removal of symptoms. Some focus on specific symptoms while other concentrate on improving an individual’s ability to function at their jobs, at home or in other social contexts. Treating clinicians with experience and training know how to combine different therapies if needed to achieve maximum effectiveness.
Some strategies that have been shown to be effective include:
- Teaching victims of PTSD to identify survivors’ guilt, self-blame, and other feelings that may be associated with trauma
- Provide guidance to the trauma victim on how to overcome specific symptoms such as improving sleep, diet, exercise habits and other habits or behavior that improves the body’s ability to handle stress
- Using educational methods to help the trauma survivor to understand what they are experiencing and why
- Train the trauma survivor in the use of effective coping skills such as relaxation exercises, guided imagery and anger-management techniques
Get Help Now
If you or someone you care for is a survivor of a traumatic event and experiencing symptoms of PTSD that are having a negative effect on their daily routine, a therapist at Thriveworks-Amherst can be of great help. The professional therapists at Thriveworks-Amherst are skilled at both assessing and treating symptoms of trauma. They are also skilled at identifying and implementing the treatment that is right for you.
So, call Thriveworks today at 413-634-4805. Thriveworks Amherst counselors are leaders in their field and ready to work with you. There is no need to continue your search for answers to your problems. The counselors at Thriveworks are ready to partner with you to improve your life.