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Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as defined by the Mayo Clinic “is a mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event—either experiencing it or witnessing it.” PTSD is recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as a diagnosable mental health condition and is listed under the new category called Trauma- and Stressor- Related Disorders. PTSD can occur when an individual has experienced severe stress or anxiety after being exposed to a traumatic event. Examples of the most common causes of PTSD include the following, provided by the American Psychiatric Association (APA):

  • Childhood abuse
  • Sexual assault
  • Military combat
  • Violent assault
  • Natural disaster 
  • Living through a traumatic physical ailment

It is important to note that not every individual who experiences a highly traumatic event will inevitably go on to develop PTSD. In those that have; however, research indicates that with proper treatment and support, an individual can overcome PTSD and go on to lead a meaningful and fulfilling life.

Symptoms

The symptoms of PTSD can be incredibly distressing. Every individual who suffers from PTSD will have his or her own set of unique symptoms. The most widespread symptoms associated with PTSD could include any combination of the following examples, provided by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIH):

  • Agitation
  • Reckless behaviors
  • Regressions
  • Flashbacks to the event
  • Irritability
  • Irregular sleep
  • Physical aches and pains
  • Difficulty with physical contact
  • Depression 
  • Severe anxiety
  • Isolation
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Low self-esteem
  • Constant feelings of fear and worry
  • Hyper vigilance
  • Experiencing crying spells
  • Tense muscles
  • Suicidal ideations
  • Exhaustion
  • Risky behavior
  • Social anxiety

Each person with PTSD has the propensity to experience varying levels of severity of the above symptoms. Furthermore, it is highly common for individuals with PTSD to suffer from a comorbid disorder. Dual diagnoses that are commonly associated with PTSD are chronic pain, anxiety disorders, depression, and attention deficit/ hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). 

Treatment

There are many treatment options for an individual struggling with PTSD in Southern California. An individual with PTSD will likely require a customized treatment plan that may include a variety of treatment modalities. The main types of psychotherapy that are commonly used to treat PTSD include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), expressive arts therapy, and talk therapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a therapeutic method that combines behavioral therapy with talk therapy. This can be extremely helpful for the treatment of PTSD, as individuals will work closely with a therapist to essentially change one’s thinking patterns by developing effective coping skills that will enable them to change their own thoughts surrounding the trauma, helping to reframe the experience or experiences in one’s own mind, thus alleviating much of the negative thoughts, feelings, emotions that play into one’s PTSD. DBT is also frequently used to treat PTSD. Dialectical behavior therapy uses mindfulness skills to help an individual focus on accepting their emotions, while also helping to adjust the unhealthy behaviors that arise from the emotions. Guidance from a qualified mental health provider in Los Angles, California can help provide an individual suffering from PTSD with the much-needed support in cultivating effective coping strategies and learning applicable skills to aid in the PTSD recovery process. 

Disclaimer: 

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health.  As such, please do not use any material provided above as a means to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment.