By Anna Straus
What is PTSD and why does it occur? Two people may experience the same event, such as a car accident. One person is shaken up but recovers in a day or two; the other is consistently plagued with anxiety and stress at even the thought of getting in a car. Psychology supposes that something in the brain can get ‘stuck’ when a person processes a traumatic event.
PTSD is characterized by high levels of distress, insomnia, difficulty concentrating, flashbacks and bad dreams. As a result people may avoid anything that slightly reminds them of the traumatic event, become emotionally numb or depressed and withdraw from otherwise enjoyed activities.
People at high risk for PTSD are people who are likely victims or witnesses of traumatic scenes: war veterans and domestic violence victims being among the most prone, although people with otherwise happy lives can also experience PTSD. The type or nature of traumatic event does not necessarily determine whether someone will get PTSD, rather, PTSD happens because of a person’s way of reacting to and attempts to ‘get over’ the event.
When left untreated the symptoms of PTSD can cause a multitude of secondary psychological and behavioral symptoms. People may turn to drugs or alcohol to self-medicate their PTSD symptoms. They may experience severe depression because of the negative impact that their PTSD stress has on all other aspects of their life.
A variety of treatments have been shown to improve PTSD symptoms. The efficacy of the treatments depending on multiple factors. Some research shows that a chemical imbalance occurs in PTSD patients, and medication appears to stabilize this. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Exposure Therapies also show promising results. These therapies help a patient confront their traumatic experience in a safe setting and reprocess it in a more effective way.
If you believe that you or a loved one has PTSD, the psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling can help you. Contact our Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices respectively at (201)-368-3700 or (212)-722-1920 to set up an appointment.