Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and its Treatment
Although an event that could be called traumatic does not affect everyone to the same degree, the event does produce certain reactions in the patient. If these reactions last for more than a month after the event the condition is called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can affect 4 different fields: emotional, physical, behavioral and cognitive.
⦁ A state of anxiety and fear
⦁ A feeling of guilt, hopelessness
⦁ Easily angered
⦁ Denial of the experience
⦁ Rapid alteration of emotions
⦁ Pessimism about the future
⦁ A feeling of chest tightness
⦁ Increased arousal
⦁ Increased or reduced appetite
⦁ Exhibiting sudden reactions
⦁ Being easily frightened, easily alarmed
⦁ Eating problems
⦁ Problems in relationships
⦁ Becoming withdrawn, removing oneself from social environments
⦁ Avoiding reminders of the event (places, people etc)
⦁ Inattention and difficulties focusing
⦁ Sleep problems, nightmares
⦁ Deterioration of thought processes, repetitive thoughts
⦁ Questioning one’s beliefs
⦁ Having repetitive visions of the moment of the event (flashbacks)
⦁ Deterioration of the perception of self, time and place (disassociation)
Although the person may consider these symptoms to be abnormal, they are normal reactions to a traumatic event. Research shows that reactions can also appear long after the event itself. In such cases it is named “of delayed onset type”. In either case, if the reactions continue for more than a month and significantly affect the person’s daily life, the assistance of an expert who works in this field should be sought.
It should not be forgotten that public incidents which in our time are experienced more intensively and to which we are exposed through the internet media, can also produce the same reactions. There is another type of trauma, which in the professional fields that help individuals with a traumatic experience is called “secondary trauma”. For instance psychologists who work with trauma cases, health workers, personnel who work in search & rescue or the fire brigade may experience over-emotions, compassion and sadness when they gather information or help a person who experienced the event. These people two can develop similar reactions.
Treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a serious disorder which affects the person’s life, social activities and perception of the world, and can lead to problems in various aspects of the person’s life. There are different treatment methods which are known to be successful in treating this disorder. Taking into account that not every person is affected from a traumatic event to the same degree, a treatment plan has to be developed that corresponds to the person’s needs.
Patients who are experiencing the effects of a trauma severely can be commenced on an antidepressant treatment that is suitable for them. The drugs used in treatment provide benefits in various areas, like mood stabilizing, decreasing over-arousal, anger control, organizing thoughts. The duration of the treatment is determined by the practitioner.
One of the most effective methods in the treatment of trauma is Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Treatment (EMDR). The aim of this treatment is to desensitize the patient to the negative effects of the traumatic event and to assist him to rerecord the event in a positive way. The technique assists the brain to record the emotional, visual, physical memories which in fact were not recorded at the moment of the event. It is a short-term treatment. For more detailed information please read our article “What is EMDR?”.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapies
Amongst Cognitive Behavioral Therapies the Exposure technique and Desensitization technique are particularly successful. In both techniques the patient is assisted to face images and conditions related to the trauma, thereby desensitizing the patient and in stages reducing the traumatic effect.
To read the story of a patient diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder please refer to our article “A Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Case“.