Post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD is a mental illness prompted by some type of frightening or traumatic event, such as an assault, natural disaster or terrorist attack.
The person may have been the victim of the event or may have simply witnessed it. Although most people will be able to move on from these types of events in time, others may not be able to shake symptoms like flashbacks and severe anxiety. When the symptoms last for an extended period of time and interfere with daily life, PTSD may be the diagnosis. People with PTSD also have a higher incidence of substance use disorders, which can significantly complicate the treatment process.
Symptoms of PTSD
People with PTSD may exhibit any or all of the following symptoms:
Intrusive memories of the event
Negative thinking about yourself and others
Avoiding locations, people or feelings connected to the event
Emotion or arousal symptoms, such as irritability or angry outbursts
The intensity of PTSD symptoms can intensify and subside over time. Sometimes triggers can activate the symptoms, such as seeing a report about a similar event on television or hearing a noise that takes them back to the event.
Treatment for PTSD
There are a number of effective ways to reduce the symptoms of PTSD and enhance your quality of life:
The most common medication used to treat PTSD is an antidepressant like Prozac, Paxil or Zoloft. However, some PTSD patients may also respond well to antipsychotics or mood stabilizers. In some cases, more than one medication may be tried in an effort to produce the best possible results.
There are also a number of different types of talk therapies that can be used to address the underlying issues of PTSD, including cognitive therapy, exposure therapy and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). In many cases, a combination of therapies may be recommended to ensure the best outcome.
PTSD and Substance Abuse
Because the symptoms of PTSD can often be intense and debilitating, sufferers may be more likely to turn to drugs or alcohol in an effort to “self-medicate” their condition. While these substances may seem to help in the short-term, they will likely cause even more problems over time. Treatment for PTSD and a substance use disorder, known as a co-occurring disorder is significantly more complex than treating one condition individually. To learn more about PTSD or to get help for your condition, contact Treatment Now.