What Is PTSD?

Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric disorder thatmay arise after an individualexperiences one or more traumaticevents. These experiences can include war and combat, violentcrimes,significant accidents, and much more. PTSD is commonlyassociated with violent conflict-- hence the termshell shock -- butthe disorder is far more common than most people realize. Indeed,anybody who hassuffered a traumatic incident can potentially developPTSD.

What Are the Symptoms of PTSD?

Symptoms of PTSD can vary. However, the most common symptomsinclude:

  • Apathy
  • Detachment
  • Memory lapses
  • Hyperventilation
  • Irritability
  • Aggressiveness
  • Negative thought patterns
  • Disturbing memories
  • Flashbacks
  • Nightmares
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What Are the Five Types of PTSD?

In general, psychiatrists and psychologists operate under the ideathat there are five categories of PTSDand borderline-PTSD mentalhealth concerns.

Normal Stress Response

This refers to individuals who have experienced a traumatic eventand had a significant emotional responsebut did not evolve intofull-blown PTSD. For example, somebody may suffer an accident thatcausespsychological aftershocks that are considered to be a normalreaction to the traumatic event. Group therapycan treat normalstress response and quality time with friends and family, and insome cases, one-on-one counseling sessions with a qualified counselor.

Uncomplicated PTSD

This refers to PTSD, which's the result of a single traumaticexperience. Flashbacks and nightmares arecommon in cases ofuncomplicated PTSD, as are mood changes and a desire to avoidreminders of the traumaticincident.

Complex PTSD

This refers to PTSD, which's the result of multiple traumaticincidents. Cases of complex PTSD are commonamong war veterans,victims of abuse, and other individuals who are frequently interrifying situations. Inaddition to sharing the same symptoms asuncomplicated PTSD, complex PTSD can include impulsivity,erraticbehavior, aggression, and substance abuse. As a result,treatment tends to be more intensive thaninuncomplicated PTSD ornormal stress response.

Acute Stress Disorder

This refers to PTSD, which's the result of experiencing or beingexposed to a life-threatening event.Examples of such an eventinclude the death of a loved one and natural disasters. In addition,the loss ofemployment could qualify as well because it couldthreaten one's livelihood.

Comorbid PTSD

This refers to PTSD resulting from a combination of PTSD combinedwith one or more additional healthconcerns. Comorbidity isassociated with substance abuse as a form of self-medication orself-destructionand often calls for an intensive treatment program.Both the commingling mental health conditionand the comorbid PTSD are treated simultaneously.

What Are the Risk Factors for PTSD?

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PTSD affects approximately 3.5 percent of adults in the US eachyear. Interestingly, women are more thantwice as likely as mento be diagnosed with PTSD, a discrepancy partly caused bysocietal factors suchas women's higher likelihood ofexperiencing sexual assault and domestic violence.

Ultimately, anybody who experiences trauma is susceptible toPTSD. That means everybody is at some risk.A terrifyingexperience may or may not evolve into full-blown PTSD, but mereexposure to such an eventis the only ingredient needed to put anindividual at risk.

Treatment for PTSD?

There is more than one way to treat PTSD. That said, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is themost mainstream approach. CBT typicallyinvolves a combination ofexposure therapy and cognitive restructuring. However, a recentapproach thatinvolves more than 30 research articles offers whatappears to be a much more effective means of treatment.It involvestriggering the part of the brain where the traumatic memories arestored (The Limbic System)then involving the sophisticated part ofthe brain (The Cortex) to form intense contradictions to theoriginalstressful, emotional learnings that took place during the trauma.This approach is called Coherence Therapy.

Exposure therapy is a process in which the individual suffering fromPTSD is repeatedly exposed toenvironments that trigger theirsymptoms. Over time, repeated exposure therapy can significantlymitigate oreven eliminate many symptoms associated with PTSD andrelated disorders. An individual becomes accustomedand morecomfortable with the feelings. By rationalizing during and afterexposures, people realize thattheir fears are far worse than thereality of the situations that trigger them. Some clients do wellwiththis approach, while others have an adverse reaction to it.

Cognitive restructuring is an intervention that seeks to help peoplethink about bad memories differentlyand less negatively. It often,but not always, encourages rationalization as a way topreventcatastrophizing. There are several tactics that therapistsuse to help people understand how to frame theirthoughts andexperiences in a more realistic and positive light. This ultimatelyrelieves the shame, guilt,and fear associated with disturbingthought patterns that can come with PTSD.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) andbrainspotting are more moderntechniques that can mitigate or eliminate theemotional responses associated with trauma. EMDR is a newer,lesstraditional form of psychotherapy growing in popularity,particularly for treating PTSD. An EMDRsession involves a therapistmanipulating a patient's eyes with hand movements -- their line ofsight anddirection of their gaze -- while they recount the trauma.During the process, the therapist will provideverbal instructionsthat help the individual think about their trauma differently andmore positively. Sometherapists also use clapping, toe-tapping ormusical tones.

Brainspotting is an off-shoot of EMDR premised upon the belief thatthe direction in which people gaze theireyes can affect how theyfeel. So, therapists help people position their eyes in ways thathelp them targetthe roots of negative emotions. Using a pointer,therapists examine one's eyes to find brainspots, which areeyepositions that trigger terrifying emotions. The technique allowstherapists to target, unblock, andbalance the physical effects oftrauma that can be found through one's eyes.

How Can BCB Therapy Help Treat PTSD?

Contact BCB Therapy, where wehave a team of caring and experienced therapistshere to help if you're struggling withPTSD or related healthconcerns such as panic disorder,generalized anxiety disorder, ordepression.

Nobody should suffer from PTSD in isolation.

Reach out to us today to make anappointment withone of our counselorsfor an in-person visit inBend, Oregon, ora virtual appointment (teletherapy) foryour convenience.