Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

    A person may develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder when they witness or experience a horrifying event that involves actual or threatened death or serious injury to themself or others. This event is experienced with intense fear and a feeling of helplessness.

     Following the horrific event a person may reexperience the event in several ways. Some  people experience recurrent, intrusive and distressing memories of the event. They may have recurrent, distressing dreams of the event. Or, they may have feelings that the event is actually recurring - as if they're re-living the event. Over time many cues develop that will serve as a reminder of the event, such as specific objects or situations, or certain smells or noises. These cues cause  intense emotional and physical distress.

     As a result of this traumatic event, the 'flashbacks' and the cues that serve to trigger yet another flashback, the person will go lengths to avoid thoughts, feelings or conversations associated with the trauma. They will avoid activities, places or people that serve as reminders of the trauma. 

     People with PTSD  frequently describe a feeling of numbness subsequent to the trauma. They have much less interest in activities they used to enjoy. They report being unable to feel with the same intensity of emotion that they had before the trauma. At the same time, a person with PTSD will be aware of constant arousal. They may have difficulty sleeping, difficulty concentrating or feeling constantly vigilant. They have an exaggerated startle response and may find themselves feeling irritable and prone to angry outbursts.

     Cognitive Behavior Therapy is an effective therapy for PTSD. In the early stages of treatment, it is enough for the person to be able to just talk about the trauma in gradually increasing detail. As this becomes easier, the therapy will involve the gradual and gentle exposure of the person to the anxiety provoking triggers or cues that serve to remind the sufferer of the trauma. During this time the person may learn to think about these cues in less threatening ways. Needless to say, treatment of PTSD must be handled  with compassion and sensitivity.



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Karron at 310 285 2280 or send an e-mail