Therapy for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Kalamazoo, MI—PTSD Therapists and Counselors

Therapy for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Kalamazoo, MI—PTSD Therapists and Counselors

The terms PTSD and post-traumatic stress disorder often get thrown around in casual conversation to express that an experience was a bit distressing. But often, someone is making light of that distress. Overhearing a comment like that can be frustrating for those with real-life experience with PTSD.

The people making those comments—the ones who say, “I saw someone shopping the other day while wearing a horrible outfit. I think I have a little PTSD from it”—probably don’t have a lot of experience with real post-traumatic stress disorder. They probably don’t know about the anxiety, the depression, the sleepless nights, and the avoidance of situations that cue difficult emotional responses, including panic, flashbacks, and crippling anxiety.

What Causes PTSD?

Post-traumatic stress disorder occurs after a traumatic event. While we often associate it with those who have been in armed conflict or witnessed an event such as a mass shooting or other violent event, it also occurs frequently in people who undergo interpersonal trauma, such as sexual assault or rape. PTSD can even manifest after an event such as a car accident, the death of a loved one, or a pregnancy- or childbirth-related trauma. It may occur in the immediate months after trauma, but sometimes it doesn’t show itself until years later.

Something that hasn’t received a lot of mainstream attention is the reality that, even if you were not directly involved in the events, you may be experiencing PTSD as a result of them. For example, there are some who were not present in New York when the Twin Towers were attacked, yet they’ve experienced PTSD from the events of that day. 9/11 marked a change in the lives of thousands of Americans, and it’s understandable that a change that drastic—and resulting from such a dramatic, public, and violent event—could cause long-lasting mental and emotional distress. If you believe you’re experiencing what’s called secondary post-traumatic stress disorder, don’t be afraid to call us. We want to help.

If you have experienced a traumatic event, studies show that seeking therapy in the weeks and months immediately following may be helpful in preventing post-traumatic stress disorder from manifesting. Using talk therapy, the therapist will work with the client to process the event(s) instead of letting them become repressed and later festering.

But, if it’s been some time since the events, you may have already started to realize you’re having trouble processing them in a healthy way, or, you may believe you are experiencing full-blown PTSD. In that case, seeking help as soon as possible is one of the best ways to begin to heal. All it takes is a phone call. Therapists at Thriveworks Kalamazoo can generally see you within just a day or two. You don’t have to wait to get help.

What Is Therapy for PTSD Like?

Before you reach out, you may wonder what exactly therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder at Thriveworks Kalamazoo in the Portage area looks like. In our first sessions, we always focus on getting to know our new client. We want to know who you are, what makes you tick, and what events brought you into our office. We work to be approachable, so we hope to earn your trust through our initial sessions–we want our clients to feel comfortable opening up about their deepest struggles so we can help them heal.

You’ll find that many of our sessions are just that: asking questions and offering guided exercises to help you think about and process the trauma in an effective way.

While we will focus on talk therapy (also called cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT), if we—therapist and patient together—decide medication to manage symptoms would be appropriate, we may prescribe that medication to supplement the work being done in our talk sessions.

The primary goal of talking through the trauma will be to evaluate how you have been processing the trauma over time. From there, we want to help you learn a new story to tell yourself about the experience that facilitates changing your perspective to a healthy one that will serve you long term, such as, “I experienced something difficult, but I cope with it in a healthy way.”

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder Counseling in Maumelle, AR–Counselors and Therapists

Have you ever watched a really scary movie, and afterwards felt extremely jumpy?  A knock on the door, a creak in your floor—everything seems a little bit louder, more intense.  Imagine experiencing this feeling all the time: a never-ending constant state of fear.  That feeling is often what someone suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) experiences daily.

“Trauma creates change you don’t choose.  Healing creates change you do choose.” –Michele Rosenthal

At Thriveworks Maumelle, we know that living with PTSD can be a challenging feat.  We have therapists that want to work with those suffering in order to help them manage this difficult mental illness.  Our PTSD therapists are willing to assist people in order to process what has happened to them and allow them to feel safe again.

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder: Signs and Symptoms

PTSD is a mental health condition that can arise after experiencing a traumatic event.  Symptoms of PTSD can vary depending on the person suffering through it.  However, symptoms typically include:

  • Hypervigilance
  • Mood changes
  • Loss of concentration
  • Flashbacks
  • Fear
  • Severe anxiety
  • Social isolation
  • Unwanted thoughts
  • Insomnia and other sleep disruptions

Symptoms don’t necessarily surface the day after an event takes place, instead it can take days, months, or years for symptoms to surface, which makes battling this illness a tough fight.

Risk factors for PTSD

When thinking about PTSD, many people associate it with war veterans, and although many of them do suffer from this condition, there is a wide scope of individuals affected by the illness.  Some might include:

  • Victims of physical or sexual assault
  • Firefighters
  • Police officers
  • ER doctors
  • Individuals diagnosed with a life-threatening illness.

These are only some of the examples of people who have heavy exposure to potential distress.  If you feel like you have lived through or witnessed a traumatic event and it has left you feeling fearful and damaged, help is out there.  

Healing and Treatment for PTSD

PTSD can be “wishy-washy” in terms of when and where symptoms arise—every person affected has a different experience. That said, the severity and frequency of these occurrences tend to do with how the PTSD is treated. Normally, a multiple approach method works best.  Medications can be used to manage the symptoms associated with PTSD and is helpful with getting fear and anxiety under control.  Many people choose to join a support group, and some even benefit from exercise.

PTSD has the ability to make one feel detached from friends and loved ones, and these are two ways to connect with others.  Traditional counseling is one of the best ways those struggling with PTSD gain insight into how they developed PTSD and ways to cope with the triggers in everyday life.  Therapy is influential in overcoming PTSD and setting someone on the road to recovery.

Schedule a Session at Thriveworks Maumelle Today

Do these signs or symptoms seem a little too similar to those you or a loved one are exhibiting?  There is help for those struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder.  Here at Thriveworks Maumelle our dedicated counselors and therapists are ready to help you start on your path to healing.  They are each equipped with the tools needed to assist you in overcoming this mental illness.

At Thriveworks we accept many different insurance plans as well as offering flexible hours with weekend and evening availability.  Thriveworks has a “no waiting list” policy, as we want our clients to get the help they need as soon as possible.

One of our PTSD counselors are ready to support you and help you on your journey toward a happier, healthier, more secure life. Call today to set up your first appointment at (501) 628-9066

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is essentially characterized by the development of certain symptoms following exposure to a traumatic event. The appearance of PTSD varies among different individuals: some mainly experience fear-based emotional and behavioral symptoms, while others enter dysphoric mood states; and some individuals may develop arousal and reactive-externalizing symptoms, while others primarily experience dissociative symptoms. It is also possible for an individual to have a combination of these symptoms.

Diagnostic Criteria for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder DSM-5 309.81 (F43.10)

The following criteria (as applied to adults, adolescents, and children older than 6 years) as outlined in the DSM-5 must be met in order for a posttraumatic stress disorder diagnosis to be made:

  • The individual was exposed to actual or threatened death, serious injury, or sexual violence in at least one of the following ways:
    • He or she was a victim of the traumatic event.
    • He or she witnessed, in person, the event as it happened to others.
    • The individual learned the traumatic event happened to a close family member or friend. When it comes to actual or threatened death of a close family members or friends, the events must have occurred violently or accidentally.
    • He or she experienced repeated or severe exposure to harsh details of the traumatic exposure. For example, EMT’s finding dead bodies or collecting human remains.
  • The individual experiences at least one of the following intrusion symptoms associated with the traumatic event, beginning after the traumatic event occurred:
    • Recurrent and involuntary distressing memories of the traumatic event that intrude his or her mind. (Note: In children older than 6 years old, repetitive play or games may involve themes of the traumatic event(s) they experienced.)
    • Recurrent distressing dreams involving the traumatic event. (Note: Children may simply have scary dreams without related or recognizable content.)
    • Dissociative reactions, such as flashbacks, where the individual feels or acts as if the traumatic event were occurring again.
    • Intense or prolonged psychological distress when exposed to cues that symbolize or resemble the traumatic event.
    • Strong physiological reactions to the aforementioned cues.
  • The individual goes out of his or her way to avoid stimuli associated with the traumatic event, as demonstrated by at least one of the following:
    • He or she puts in an effort to avoid distressing thoughts, feelings, and memories associated with the traumatic event.
    • He or she puts in an effort to avoid external reminders—people, conversations, situations, places—that bring about distressing thoughts, feelings, and memories associated with the traumatic event.
  • The individual experiences negative alterations in thoughts and moods associated with the traumatic event, beginning or worsening after the event occurred, as demonstrated by at least two of the following:
    • An inability to remember important aspects of the traumatic occurrence, usually due to factors like amnesia, head injury, or alcohol
    • Persistent and exaggerated negative beliefs or expectations.
    • Persistent distorted thoughts and views about the causes as well as consequences of the traumatic event that result in self-blame.
    • Persistent negative emotional state, such as fear or anger.
    • A diminished interest or involvement in significant activities.
    • Feelings of detachment from others or estrangement from loved ones.
    • Persistent inability to experience positive emotions, like happiness, love, and fulfillment.
  • The individual has marked alterations in arousal and reactivity associated with the traumatic event, which begins or worsens after the event occurred, as proven by at least two of the following:
    • Angry outburst and irritable behavior, which is typically expressed verbally or physically toward other people or objects
    • Reckless, careless, or self-destructive behavior
    • Hypervigilance
    • An excessive startle response
    • Difficulty concentrating
    • Sleep disturbance, which may involve difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • The disturbance lasts longer than 1 month.
  • The disturbance causes clinically significant distress and/or impairment in normal areas of functioning.
  • The disturbance cannot be attributed to the physiological effects of a substance or another medical condition.

It’s important to specify whether the posttraumatic stress disorder is…

…with dissociative symptoms, which means the individual has symptoms that meet the criteria for the disorder and experiences persistent or recurrent symptoms of either of the following in response to the stress:

  • Depersonalization: The individual consistently feels detached from his or her body or mind (e.g., feels like they’re in a dream, or time is moving in slow motion).
  • Derealization: He or she feels like his or her surroundings aren’t real (e.g., the world around the individual appears distorted or unreal)

…with delayed expression, which is where the individual does not meet full criteria until at least 6 months after the traumatic event occurred.

Prevalence of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder DSM-5 309.81 (F43.10)

Rates of PTSD are, unsurprisingly, higher among veterans, firefighters, cops, etc., who are more likely to or more often experience traumatic events. The highest rates are found among survivors of rape, captivity, military combat, and genocide. PTSD symptoms may vary across development, as children and adolescents generally display lower prevalence following exposure to traumatic events. However, PTSD can occur at any time and at any age, with symptoms typically beginning within the first 3 months of the trauma.

Treatment for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Individuals suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder have a few effective treatment options. These include:

  1. Cognitive behavioral therapy, which helps individuals understand thoughts and beliefs that may be harmful to them.
  2. Exposure therapy, which helps individuals face the traumatic event and situations related to the event that they find frightening and come up with ways to cope.
  3. Medication, which is used to help improve symptoms of PTSD. Antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, and prazosin are all used by PTSD sufferers.

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