Pstd by alexistiens


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What it is: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD for short, is a complex, often chronic disorder
that involves three clusters of symptoms following exposure to a traumatic event:

• re-experiencing
• increased arousal
• avoidance or numbing of responsiveness

Trauma survivors often exhibit complicated associated features such as over or under responding
emotionally, experiencing physical problems, and dissociation. PTSD is frequently linked with
intense suffering and is considered to be one of the most distressing of problems. In severe cases,
PTSD can disrupt virtually every aspect of normal functioning. Sometimes PTSD symptoms can
seemingly go away for extended periods only to reemerge in response to recent stressors or
unrecognized triggers related to the original trauma.

The Effects of Trauma on Emotional Development: The term "complex PTSD" was coined by Dr.
Judith Herman in 1992. "Complex" traumas often involve parents, siblings or caretakers as
perpetrators, and tend to occur multiple times while the emerging self is forming. These types of
traumas cause disruptions in fundamental relationships. When trauma occurs during childhood, is
frequent or prolonged, and/or involves interpersonal abuse (such as childhood sexual or physical
abuse), other distressing symptoms in addition to PTSD may develop. These include: impaired
emotional modulation; self destructive and impulsive behavior; dissociative symptoms; bodily
complaints; feelings of ineffectiveness; shame, despair, or hopelessness; a sense of being
permanently damaged; a loss of previously sustained beliefs; hostility; social withdrawal; feeling
constantly threatened; impaired relationships with others; or a change in personality.

Trauma and PTSD also cause other problems. Below is a partial list:

• Major Depression, Substance Use, and Other Anxiety Disorders: There is increasing
scientific evidence that trauma causes other psychiatric disorders. 80% of people who have PTSD
also suffer from the above disorders.

• Substance Use Disorders: If you have PTSD, you may seek to self medicate painful trauma
emotions by using alcohol or other drugs, and are at risk for becoming addicted.

• Dissociation: Dissociation is a psychological defense against overwhelming feelings where
you may experience memory lapses, feel unreal or altered, dreamy or outside of your body, etc.

• Alexithymia: relates to the absence or inability to experience feelings.
• Traumatic Amnesia: Forgetting all or parts of what happened to you when you were

• PTSD and Suicide: You are at increased risk of suicide if you have PTSD!!!

Successful Treatment of Trauma and PTSD: Since trauma, especially when encountered in
childhood, often affects your ability to connect with others, you need to develop a safe and secure
relationship with your therapist. This is a necessary first step: the degree you feel connected to
your therapist will help you to confront what happened to you! After this initial step, several forms
of psychotherapy can help you recover from trauma. Any successful treatment would involve
gradually confronting what happened to you. Disclosing and processing traumatic material
(memories, images, related thoughts and feelings) is the primary way of recovering from Trauma
and PTSD. The goal is to confront rather than avoid traumatic material and also to create a
coherent life history that contains both the trauma story as well as your personal successes. You
would be gently encouraged to feel and engage the emotions associated with the trauma. Three
types of therapy have the greatest scientific evidence: Prolonged exposure therapy, cognitive
processing therapy, and EMDR.

Drugs are an option but should not replace therapy: Drugs may help some but they only tend to
mask symptoms! When you stop taking the drug, the symptoms will eventually return. In addition,
all psychiatric drugs have significant side effects that can be very unpleasant. With the above
caveat, there are several classes of medication frequently used to treat PTSD and Trauma. The
safest and most effective are the Antidepressants, especially the SSRI's and SNRI's. Tranquilizers
are often used but are addictive, interfere with psychotherapy, and some scientist now believe
they may worsen your symptoms over the long run. Antipsychotics and mood stabilizers are also

For more information on PTSD and its treatment visit http:/ar/ptsd-symptoms.php. Dr. Eric Ryan is
a psychologist in private practice in Santa Rosa California. He is currently the Training Director for
the Post Doctoral Residency Program at Kaiser Psychiatry in Santa Rosa and was previously the
Chair for the Anxiety Disorder Best Practices for all of Northern California Kaiser Psychiatry. For
more information about Dr. Ryan go to http:/ar/ptsd-symptoms.php

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