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Can You Ever Heal From PTSD?

Anyone dealing with or who has a loved one living with post-traumatic stress disorder knows how much physical and emotional pain PTSD symptoms can inflict, not only on the victim but also on friends and family.


PTSD is an anxiety disorder that has become commonplace in the USA today. It is estimated that at least 8% of Americans, 24.4 million people, will experience PTSD at some point in their lives. Despite being so widespread, not many people can access the help needed to recover from the lingering effects of the trauma at the root of this illness. Millions of Americans continue to suffer in silence- the social stigma of seeking help for mental illness still rears its ugly head.


PTSD is no respecter of age, sex, social status, or race. Anyone who has at any point in their lives been exposed to a life-threatening or traumatic event can suffer from PTSD.


Causes of PTSD

Right from the definition- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder- it is obvious that experiencing trauma is the cause of this debilitating disorder. The most commonly associated trauma is that of experiencing warfare- understandable, since a significant portion of Armed Forces Veterans return from deployment exhibiting telltale signs of PTSD.


However, exposure to any type of trauma can cause an onset of PTSD. Experiencing any one of these traumatic events can cause post-traumatic stress disorder:


  •       Physical Violence
  •       Accidents: Automobile, Air, Sea
  •       Child Abuse and Neglect
  •       Sexual Assaults and Abuse
  •       Witnessing Death
  •       Living in War
  •       Natural or Man-made Disasters
  •       Military Service


These are some of the most common causes of PTSD. In some cases having someone, you love to experience one of these traumatic experiences can trigger PTSD symptoms for you. Having a loved one experience a fatal car crash, for instance, can lead to the development of PTSD in an otherwise healthy individual. Emergency response personnel- first responders, like policemen, fire service, and paramedics, can develop PTSD as a coping mechanism to the traumatic events they may have witnessed over the course of their service.


People with preexisting mental disorders like anxiety and depression may be more predisposed to developing PTSD after experiencing trauma. The importance of seeking help cannot be overemphasized, treating existing mental illnesses can reduce your risks of developing PTSD in response to traumatic events.


PTSD Triggers and Symptoms


The symptoms of PTSD can be triggered by even the most mundane of stimuli. Smells, sounds, and physical sensations with even a remote correlation or link to the traumatic experience can lead to an outbreak of the physical and emotional symptoms of PTSD. The symptoms of PTSD can be life-changing, affecting not only your life but also that of people you care about.


The following are some of the most commonly experienced symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder:


  •       Flashbacks and Reliving Events: Experiencing constant flashbacks to the traumatic events are one of the most common symptoms of having PTSD. These flashbacks constantly keep your body’s adrenaline levels up by implication raising your stress levels and leaving you in a constant state of fight or flight. You may also have trouble moving on from the events constantly dwelling on the events and circumstances surrounding it.


  •       Avoidance: You consciously avoid things, places, or people that have to remind you of the trauma you experienced.


  •       Emotional Numbness and Indifference: Loss of interest in activities that had you excited in the past. You may also lose emotional attachments or responses to events around you.


  •       Panic Attacks: Experiencing intense episodes of fear and dread, all accompanied by physical symptoms like elevated heartbeats, profuse sweating, and numbness in arms and legs.


  •       Depression: A prolonged feeling of sadness, anxiety, and despair. This goes beyond occasional sadness.


  •       Night Terrors: Episodes of intense feelings and sensations of dread, during a half-awake state. Sweating, screaming, and restlessness is also common symptoms.


  •       Insomnia: Being unable to fall asleep at night. Or having recurrent nightmares related to your trauma.


  •       Physical Symptoms: Sweating, persistent headaches, muscular tension and cramps, gastrointestinal problems, and feeling a tightness in the chest.


  •       Substance Abuse: Drug addictions and alcoholism may be used to numb the memories of such trauma.

Treating PTSD

Treating PTSD can help you regain control of your life by helping you develop healthy coping mechanisms for the trauma you may have experienced. The goal of PTSD treatment is to help you manage the symptoms allowing you live a life relatively unhindered by the emotional and physical symptoms.


Treating PTSD is usually done using therapy or medication. However, there are multiple variants of therapy, each with a different technique and suitable for different individuals. It is best to contact a licensed medical practitioner to be properly diagnosed and create an effective treatment plan. Your symptoms, as well as your physical and mental condition, will be assessed to help you on the road to recovery from PTSD.


Your options for PTSD treatment are:


  •       Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy is an effective treatment plan for post-traumatic stress disorder. It is usually the first course of action recommended by practitioners due to its effectiveness. However, you may have to combine therapy as well as prescription medications depending on your circumstances.


Visit our Los Angeles psychotherapy facility to discuss with an experienced licensed therapist and decide on what form of therapy will yield the best results for you. Here are the most commonly used forms of psychotherapy in the treatment of PTSD.


  1.     Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a type of therapy that is focused on helping you manage your thoughts and by extension, your life. Your therapist will help you identify harmful thought patterns that cause you to continuously relive or dwell on the trauma of your past. CBT goes beyond just the therapy sessions- over the course of treatment, you will develop skills to help you manage your symptoms and cope with PTSD triggers.

  •       CBT includes Exposure Therapy. This involves confrontation with triggers and scenarios that cause disproportionate amounts of fear. Exposure therapy allows you to control your reaction to triggers which includes memories, sounds, and images that remind you of the trauma.


  •       Cognitive Restructuring Is another component aspect of CBT. PTSD sufferers have trouble recollecting exact facts from the traumatic event. This leads to many victims blaming themselves and continually thinking they contributed to such traumatic events. The cognitive restructuring will help you sift through bad memories and eliminate lingering feelings of guilt and shame that may weigh them down.


  •        A stimuli-based type of CBT is Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy (EDMR). While concentrating on sounds or an object in a back and forth motion you are asked to think about traumatic memories. The goal of this treatment is to help you attach more positive emotions to your traumatic memories.


  •       Stress Inoculation Training (SIT) helps you retool your management of the trauma induced stress. SIT includes the development of coping mechanisms to negate the negative impacts of PTSD symptoms.


  •       Prolonged Exposure Therapy (PET) is another very effective form of CBT treatments for PTSD. During PET, you confront your trauma either by speaking about it or exposure to objects, sounds, and other stimuli that may trigger such feelings of distress and fear. The goal of PET is to remove your subconscious association of harmless and safe stimuli like objects, sounds, smells and images from the trauma you experienced.


CBT is a proven treatment plan, having the most success among PTSD sufferers. Sessions last between 12-16 weeks.


  1.     Group Therapy

Group therapy as a form of PTSD treatment involves the communal experience of a support group. You may or may not be required to share memories from the traumatic incidence. The presence of other people sharing your pain and experiences can be very therapeutic and healing. During sessions coping mechanisms and stress management skills are taught to participants, helping them manage the debilitating symptoms of PTSD.


  •       Medications

Medications may be prescribed alongside psychotherapy to help you effectively manage the symptoms of PTSD. One of the main causes of PTSD is the chemical imbalance in the brains of victims. Certain medication can help normalize the distorted neurotransmitters imbalance in the brain, allowing a reduction in the production of adrenaline and the stress hormone- cortisol.

Prescription medications for PTSD will help your body normalize its response to triggers, lessening the usual extreme arousal to bad memories. With the right drugs, you will notice a reduction in physical and emotional symptoms of anxiety, night terrors, recurring flashbacks, and depression.


The FDA approved medications used for the treatment of PTSD are:

  •       Paroxetine (Paxil)
  •       Sertraline (Zoloft)


However, the following drugs have also been shown to be effective as of label treatments of post-traumatic stress disorder. Only through consultation with a licensed therapist, psychologist or mental health professional can help you discover the most effective treatment option for you.


  •       Venlafaxine (Effexor)
  •       Fluoxetine(Prozac)
  •       Antidepressants
  •       Beta-blockers
  •       Antianxiety Medication: Benzodiazepines


The risk of drug abuse is elevated with the use of these drugs and self-medication can prove to be dangerous. Speak to a therapist, Los Angeles based today for proper diagnosis, consultations, and prescription of PTSD medication.


Treatment with medication may focus on other underlying mental disorders exacerbating your response to trauma like chronic depression and anxiety. By tackling these underlying issues, you are well positioned to benefit from other treatment plans focused directly on your PTSD like psychotherapy.


Do not self-medicate or abruptly stop your medications as the risk of addiction and drug withdrawals are particularly severe. Your treatment may last up to a year with medications and at the end of your treatment plan, your therapist will help you taper off your medication to prevent withdrawals. If you feel your medication is not effective, speak to a therapist, and he or she will help you safely switch to a different medication without adverse effects.


PTSD Recovery

You may feel like there is no way to heal or recover from the trauma and recurrent symptoms of your PTSD, however, this is not the case.


The first stage of recovery is realizing that you need help and if you are reading this, you probably already have. The symptoms of PTSD can greatly affect your life, leaving you vulnerable and liable to relive traumatic events even with a minor trigger. After identifying your symptoms you then need to seek out help and support.


Although it may be impossible to eliminate all traces of the past trauma, you can effectively reduce the negative hold it has on your life. With the treatment options available- psychotherapy, medications, or a combination of both- you can manage the intrusive physical and emotional reactions to triggers; retrain how your mind responds to negative thoughts or memories from such an event; and embark on self healing, ridding yourself of the blame and guilt you have carried over the event.


PTSD, like all mental disorders, is an illness. And illnesses can be treated, to make you better. While it is admittedly difficult to seek out help especially with the fearful symptoms of PTSD, our clinicians at Family Time Centers are well suited to make your recovery experience as personalized and comfortable as possible for you.


Family Time Centers in Los Angeles psychotherapy organization committed to helping you and your loved ones get their lives back on track after suffering from trauma. Our clinicians are experienced, licensed, and well versed in not only mental health but also interpersonal interaction. Reach out today to begin your healing process and start recovering from the pain of post-traumatic stress disorder.


Do not lose hope or suffer internally with the symptoms of PTSD there are people, support groups, and professionals who are interested in pulling you out of the seemingly endless cycle of trauma. Recovery is a long-term process to be ready to commit wholly to your treatment plan and does not despair over the results in the short-term. Ultimately, you will notice a vast improvement in your overall life.


It is possible to heal from PTSD, so reach out today.


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