A Brief Introduction to Clinical Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a condition that is triggered by a traumatic and terrifying event. This event impacts an individual’s mental health. The individual may have personally experienced the traumatic event or just witnessed it. According to the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition, a traumatic event includes specific parameters, including the following:
- Trauma: Experience with the traumatic event (death, serious injury, or sexual violence) in one or more of the following ways:
- Having the experience happen to you
- Being in the presence of the traumatic event while it is happening to someone else
- Learning that the traumatic event has happened to a family member or a close friend
- Repeated exposure to details or evidence of the traumatic event that has happened to someone else
For most people, a traumatic event causes an individual to have temporary symptoms that cause the individual to have problems coping and adjusting. Eventually, those symptoms improve. When the symptoms get worse, or last for months or years, and continue to interfere with an individual’s every day life, then the individual has post traumatic stress disorder.
What Are Signs and Symptoms of Clinical PTSD?
Symptoms related to post traumatic stress disorder can start as soon as 30 days after the trauma occurs, however, it may takes years for the symptoms to appear. Each individual has a different type of response to the trauma. These symptoms significantly impair an individual’s ability to handle every day life and interact with people in social situations.
There are four categories of symptoms of PTSD. They are avoidance, intrusive memories, changes in physical and emotional reactions, and negative changes in thinking and mood. The symptoms and their intensity change and vary over time and are different for each individual. [Note: There are a separate set of criteria for diagnosing PTSD in children age six and under.]
- Intrusion: Experience of intrusion symptoms related to the traumatic event commencing after the traumatic event has occurred and lasting for at least one month in one or more of the following ways:
- Repetitive disturbing memories of the traumatic event
- Repetitive disturbing dreams reminiscent of or related to the traumatic event
- The traumatic response of dissociation which can feel like a part of you is no longer experiencing the present moment but back in the moment of the traumatic event
- Feelings of disturbance or distress in relation to internal or external stimuli that in some way represent or remind you of the traumatic event
- A negative somatic response, as in, the experience of physiological distress in response to internal or external stimuli that in some way represent or remind you of the traumatic event
- Avoidance: Purposefully avoiding stimuli that in some way represents or reminds you of the traumatic event and lasting for at least a month in one or both of the following ways:
- Making an effort to stop internal memories, thoughts, or feelings in relation to the traumatic event
- Making an effort to avoid people, places, situations, or other external stimuli that are reminiscent of or in some way remind you of the traumatic event
- Mood and Thoughts: lasting for at least a month and negatively impacting you in two or more of the following ways:
- Newly internalized negative globalizing beliefs about oneself, others, or the world at large in response to the traumatic event. An example of this type of belief is: “Everyone is out to get me” or “The world is unsafe”
- Newly internalized rationale for the traumatic event that falsely assigns blame to the self. An example of this type of belief is: “It is all my fault”
- The presence of a consistently negative internal emotional state, as in, persistent feelings of anger, shame, or guilt
- A withdrawal from participation in otherwise or historically important events and activities
- A withdrawal or felt sense of detachment from others
- The loss of ability to feel joy or positivity in historically pleasant situations
- Arousal and Reactivity: significant changes in the individual’s behavior in ways that are specifically linked to and can be correlated as reactionary to the traumatic event, lasting for at least a month and illustrated by two or more of the following symptoms:
- Physical or verbally aggressive, irritable, or angry behavior and outbursts that erupt seemingly out of nowhere
- Incautious, self-harming actions
- Hypervigilance, that is, the state of being on high alert for pending or potential danger or threat
- The symptoms, reactions, and impact of the traumatic event negatively impact the individual’s ability to function in the areas of social, occupational, or educational areas of life.
- The symptoms, reactions, and impact of the traumatic event cannot be attributed to substance use, prescribed medication, or another medical condition.
Additional Facts About Clinical PTSD
- Veterans and individuals with occupations that expose them to traumatic events and the aftermath of traumatic events have a higher risk of development Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
- Lifetime risk for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in the United States is 8.7% of the population
- Survivors of rape are at an increased risk for developing Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
PTSD Treatment at Silicon Beach Treatment Center
An individual with post traumatic stress disorder may feel as though he or she is out of control. There are often secondary conditions as a result of post traumatic stress disorder. This conditions include anxiety, depression, and alcohol and drug abuse. Treatment is very important to help the individual reduce the symptoms of the post traumatic stress disorder. If the individual can reduce the symptoms, he or she can learn to improve his or her ability to function in every day life.
At Silicon Beach Treatment Center, we treat PTSD. Our task when treating any area of client suffering is to identify the nature of your experience with it, explore the underlying causes, and work together to usher in resiliency, foster a more hopeful outlook, and restore equilibrium. Our caring, trained professionals will work diligently to bring you the support, interventions, and treatment you need.
Please note, the information on this page is based on the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition, however, it is in no way exhaustive on the subject of each disorder discussed. This text is not intended to be the basis of self-diagnosis of any disorder. Only a trained mental health provider can provide you with an accurate diagnosis based on a myriad of factors and details specific to your particular case.