Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can occur, if an individual has been exposed to a traumatic event in which the person experienced, witnessed or was confronted with an event that involved actual or threatened death, serious injury or a threat to physical health. How a person responds to this traumatic event is also considered during the diagnosis. If the person’s response involved intense fear, helplessness or horror and these symptoms persisted, the individual may be experiencing PTSD. A person with PTSD re-experiences the traumatic event through the following:

  • Recurring and distressing recollections of the event
  • Intrusive thoughts of the event
  • Recurring dreams
  • Reliving the experience through realistic hallucinations or flashbacks of the event
  • Exaggerated physical or emotional reactions to pictures, smells, sounds or thoughts that symbolize the event

Reactions to Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

People with PTSD react to symptoms and their traumatic past by either avoiding anything associated with the event or being hyper alert. In the avoidance reaction, a person may do the following:

  • Avoid thoughts, feelings, conversations, activities, places or people that elicit a recollection of the event
  • Become withdrawn and detached from people or activities that were previously enjoyable
  • Limit future plans
  • Restrict emotions

When a person experiences hyper-vigilance or hyper alert reactions, they will demonstrate the following:

  • Inability to get or stay asleep
  • Emotional outbursts
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irrational reactions to common stimuli

Treatment for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

While PTSD is considered a mental health issue, many people have difficulty finding a treatment resource that they feel will meet their needs. One of the first steps that you may take is to ask your medical doctor for a referral. The physician will rule out physical issues that may be exacerbating your symptoms and can provide you with a variety of recovery resources. There are many psychologists, psychiatrists and counselors who specialize in treating anxiety issues and may have significant experience working with people who have PTSD.

One reservation regarding seeking PTSD treatment is fear about speaking about the traumatic event. Individuals may be afraid that these conversations will only make their PTSD symptoms worse, because it will force them to recall painful memories. However PTSD treatment occurs in a safe and comforting environment, and a trained professional will guide and support recovering individuals while talking about the traumatic event and working to reduce symptoms like nightmares and flashbacks. Strategies for effective treatment of PTSD may include the following:

  • Learning skills to cope with anxiety, fear or panic
  • Relaxation techniques that help mitigate the response to stress
  • Techniques to resolve other problems

Get Help for PTSD Treatment

If you or someone you know is struggling with PTSD or hoping it will go away by itself, call our toll-free helpline to get more information about treatment options. You can recover from PTSD, but it won’t happen on its own. We are here 24 hours a day to answer your questions and connect you with effective resources. We are here to help.