• Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

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    What is PTSD?

    Many people think of war and natural disasters when they think of PTSD. While these experiences can result in PTSD, PTSD is not limited to these experiences.

    PTSD is a mental health condition that can happen when a person is exposed to actual or threatened death, serious injury, or sexual violation by either:

    • Directly experiencing the traumatic event(s):
    •  Eg.Victim of a sexual or physical assault, experiencing bullying, becoming seriously ill

    • Witnessing, in person, the traumatic event(s) as they occurred to others:
    •  Eg. Witnessing a motor vehicle accident or an assault

    • Learning that the traumatic event(s) occurred to a close family member or a close friend:
    •  Eg. Losing a loved one to Covid-19

    • Experiencing repeated or extreme exposure to aversive details of the traumatic event(s):
    •  Eg. Working as a first responder or a caregiver to someone who has experienced trauma.

    Avoidance Symptoms

    People who experience PTSD try to protect themselves through avoidance.

    Avoidance of people, places, images, sounds, smells, tastes, and situations that remind you of the event

    Avoidance of emotions and memories associated with the event

    Substance use, self-harm, difficulty falling asleep, preoccupation with work, social withdrawal and feeling numb are all signs of avoidance

    Dissociation can also happen – this is becoming lost in an event or losing the sense of present time.

    Re-experiencing Symptoms

    Unexpected and intrusive memories of the trauma may appear as images, sounds, nightmares or flashbacks.

    These can be triggered by the environment or when the mind is not preoccupied with other matters (eg. memories come racing when you lay down to sleep, finish work for the day, or are alone)

    Changes in Arousal and Reactivity

    Hypervigilance – keeping your guard up, feeling on alert

    Exaggerated startle response – jumpy, easily startled

    Problems concentrating

    Difficulty staying or falling asleep

    Feeling easily irritated, losing your temper

    Reckless or self-destructive behaviour such as self-harm, driving erratically or too fast, driving a motorcycle without a helmet, risky sexual behaviour, or other risk-taking behaviours

    Changes in Thinking and/or Mood

    PTSD can lead you to:

    Believe that you are bad, that others can’t be trusted, and that the world is dangerous

    Blame yourself or others for the traumatic event and what you should or could have done differently

    Sense that you don’t fit in or that you’re cut off from others, even when you’re with them

    Feel afraid, angry, guilty, and/or ashamed

    Have a hard time feeling joy, happiness, and love

    Lose interest in the things that were once important to you

    What are the Symptoms of PTSD?

    PTSD symptoms can be divided into four categories: avoidance symptoms, re-experiencing symptoms, changes in arousal and reactivity, and changes in thinking and/or mood.

    Many of these symptoms are a natural response to trauma. If they are persistent, last for more than a month, and impair various areas of your life, it’s possible that you’re experiencing PTSD.

    Not everyone experiences all of these symptoms and some people find some symptoms more distressing then others. At your first appointment, we’ll review your symptoms to see how the trauma has affected your life. Then we’ll develop a plan to target these areas specifically.

    How is PTSD Treated?

    The reason I love working with PTSD is because it is a highly treatable condition! Much research has been done to find out what therapies are most effective at helping you process and heal from trauma. When research supports the effects of a therapy, it is called evidence-based.

    At New Moon Psychotherapy we only offer evidence-based therapies to help you feel better. The two evidence-based therapies we offer are Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) and Prolonged Exposure (PE) to treat PTSD.

    I know it doesn’t feel that way now but it IS possible to feel better.