Anyone is Susceptible to Post-Traumatic Stress
Approximately 7.7 million American adults age 18 and older have post-traumatic stress disorder or post-traumatic stress, according to the National Institutes of Health. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that some people get after seeing or living through a dangerous event.
A “fight-or-flight” response is a healthy reaction meant to protect a person from harm. But in PTSD, this reaction is changed or damaged.
People who have PTSD may feel stressed or frightened even when they’re no longer in danger.
ANYONE can get PTSD at ANY AGE.
This includes war veterans and survivors of physical and sexual assault, abuse, accidents, disasters, and many other serious events. Not everyone with PTSD has been through a dangerous event. Some people get PTSD after a friend or family member experiences danger or is harmed. The sudden, unexpected death of a loved one can also cause PTSD.(1)
How Do I Know if I Have PTSD?
Symptoms usually begin within 3 months of the traumatic event. However, sometimes an episode may not strike until years afterward. Symptoms must last more than a month and be severe enough to interfere with relationships or work to be considered PTSD. PTSD can be mild to severe and the course of the illness varies with recovery seen within 6 months, while others have symptoms that last much longer. In some severe cases, the condition becomes chronic.(1)
SYMMETRY Neuro-Pathway Training does not diagnosis PTSD or any other mental health concerns. We provide articles on a number of mental health topics to help provide helpful information and research to a number of topics. A doctor who has experience helping people with mental illnesses, such as a psychiatrist or psychologist, can diagnose PTSD. If you are experiencing and of the following symptoms, you should discuss with a mental health professional on the best course of treatment for you.
To be diagnosed with PTSD, an adult must have all of the following for at least 1 month:
- At least one re-experiencing symptom
- At least one avoidance symptom
- At least two arousal and reactivity symptoms
- At least two cognition and mood symptoms(1)
PTSD can cause many symptoms. Notable symptoms can be grouped into four categories:
- Re-experiencing Symptoms
- Avoidance or Depression Symptoms
- Hyperarousal or Anxiety Symptoms
- Cognition and Mood Symptoms
Individuals with PTSD will re-experiencing symptoms from the event. They can occur at any time, during normal activities, while sleeping, and/or may be triggered by a number of reasons that may not make sense to you but will link the experience to the person. Ex. Smells can trigger certain memories.
Re-experiencing symptoms may cause problems in a person’s everyday routine. They can stem from the person’s own thoughts and feelings and even words, objects, or situations that are reminders of the event can also trigger re-experiencing.
- Flashbacks—reliving the trauma over and over, including physical symptoms like a racing heart or sweating
- Bad dreams
- Frightening thoughts.
Avoidance or Depression Symptoms
Many individuals with post-traumatic stress will build coping mechanisms to avoid the stress since coming into contact can trigger a panic event. The person may change his or her routine. Example, avoid the place of the accident if in a bad car crash. You will notice the person may act or describe their symptoms in a similar way to these examples:
- Staying away from places, events, or objects that are reminders of the experience
- Feeling emotionally numb
- Feeling strong guilt, depression, or worry
- Losing interest in activities that were enjoyable in the past
- Having trouble remembering the dangerous event.
Hyperarousal or Anxiety Symptoms
These symptoms are constant, a feeling of always being on edge, tense or appearing always on the look out after the event. It can cause the person to feel more stressed, irritable and angry. They may begin to have a short fuse or having difficulty sleeping. These symptoms can make it hard to complete everyday task such as eating, concentrating or focusing on conversations with others. Examples to note are:
- Being easily startled
- Feeling tense or “on edge”
- Having difficulty sleeping, and/or having angry outbursts.
Cognition and Mood Symptoms
Cognition and mood symptoms can begin shortly after the even and worsen after a period of time. These symptoms can make the person feel alienated or detached from friends or family members. Memory concerns can build for some people by forgetting important details in their daily activities, creating false memories or having trouble remembering key features of the event or distorted feelings that can turn into chronic symptoms of depression.
- Trouble remembering key features of the traumatic event
- Negative thoughts about oneself or the world
- Distorted feelings like guilt or blame
- Loss of interest in enjoyable activities
What Are Your Options?
Many individuals will try PTSD with Psychotherapy as an option.
Psychotherapy is “talk” therapy. It involves talking with a mental health professional to treat a mental illness. Psychotherapy can occur one-on-one or in a group. Talk therapy treatment for PTSD usually lasts 6 to 12 weeks, but can take more time. Research shows that support from family and friends can be an important part of therapy. (1)
One helpful form of therapy is called cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT. CBT can include:
- Exposure therapy. This helps people face and control their fear. It gradually exposes them to the trauma they experienced in a safe way. It uses imagining, writing, or visiting the place where the event happened. The therapist uses these tools to help people with PTSD cope with their feelings.
- Cognitive restructuring. This helps people make sense of the bad memories. Sometimes people remember the event differently than how it happened. They may feel guilt or shame about something that is not their fault. The therapist helps people with PTSD look at what happened in a realistic way. (1)
Medications for PTSD
Some people try Medication
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved two medications for treating adults with PTSD:
- sertraline (Zoloft)
- paroxetine (Paxil)
Both of these medications are antidepressants, which are also used to treat depression.
The FDA issued a Black Box Warning (A “black box” warning is the most serious type of warning on prescription drug labeling.)
Black Box Warning – The warning emphasizes that patients of all ages taking antidepressants should be closely monitored, especially during the initial weeks of treatment. Possible side effects to look for are worsening depression, suicidal thinking or behavior, or any unusual changes in behavior such as sleeplessness, agitation, or withdrawal from normal social situations. The warning adds that families and caregivers should also be told of the need for close monitoring and report any changes to the physician. (1)
Doctors may also prescribe other types of medications, such as the ones listed below. There is little information on how well these work for people with PTSD.
- These medications may be given to help people relax and sleep. People who take benzodiazepines may have memory problems or become dependent on the medication.
- These medications are usually given to people with other mental disorders, like schizophrenia. People who take antipsychotics may gain weight and have a higher chance of getting heart disease and diabetes. (1)
- Research over the past 40 years has demonstrated that inappropriate brainwave activity is at the core of most neurological disorders.
- Neurofeedback is a sophisticated form of biofeedback that actually trains the brain to normalize the brainwaves and make them flexible and adaptable to situational needs.
- Results are effective and long-lasting.
What is Neurofeedback?
- Neurofeedback is based upon the principle that there is a normal pattern of brain wave activity and that the brain regulates itself based upon this pattern. Research demonstrates that this normal pattern of brainwave activity may become disrupted, resulting in a dysregulated brain and causing neurological symptoms.
Neurofeedback Research and Statistics:
- In 1991 Peniston published a study in a top journal, Medical Psycotherapy using neurofeedback with Vietnam veterans suffering with PTSD.
There were 2 groups:
- Group 1 – 14 subjects received traditional therapies
- Group 2 – 15 subjects received neurofeedback, deep states training in addition to the traditional therapies
By the end of the month long study only group 2 tested within normal limits on psychological testing; and
Thirty months later 12 of the 15 who had done the deep states training were living a normal life while all 14 in the control group had relapse.
PTSD can affect children and teens as well as adults. To continue, reading please go to the blog post, PTSD in Children and Teens.
How Do I Know If I or a Loved One is at Risk?
Many factors come into play if a person will develop PTSD. Below is a list of risk factors that make a person more likely to develop PTSD. While other factors, called resilience factors, can help reduce the risk of the disorder. (1)
Risk Factors for PTSD include:
- Living through dangerous events and traumas
- Getting hurt
- Seeing another person hurt, or seeing a dead body
- Childhood trauma
- Feeling horror, helplessness, or extreme fear
- Having little or no social support after the event
- Dealing with extra stress after the event, such as the loss of a loved one, pain and injury, or loss of a job or home
- Having a history of mental illness or substance abuse
Resilience factors that may reduce the risk of PTSD include:
- Seeking out support from other people, such as friends and family
- Finding a support group after a traumatic event
- Learning to feel good about one’s actions in the face of danger
- Having a positive coping strategy, or a way of getting through the bad event and learning from it
- Being able to act and respond effectively despite feeling fear
Researchers are studying the importance of these and other risk and resilience factors, including genetics and neurobiology. With more research, someday it may be possible to predict who is likely to develop PTSD and prevent it. (1) If you are concerned about the negative characteristics of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder that you are experiencing or you know another person struggling that may benefit from an alternative approach, please contact us. We want to talk to you, hear your story and discuss options on how to help.
If you are sick and tired of experiencing the negative symptoms of PTSD, please call us at (844) 272-4666 or contact us in the form below to discuss your options and learn more.