Symptoms of PTSD

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PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) was recognized as a diagnosis in 1980. In 35 years it has undergone several revisions and changes in what constitutes the condition, the most recent being in 2013 with the outcome being a recognized diagnosis in the DSM V (the diagnosis manual for mental health conditions). The current definition of PTSD is a history of exposure to a traumatic event that causes the expression a number of symptoms from the following four categories:

  • Intrusion (flashbacks)
  • Avoidance (Removing yourself from the current reality)
  • Negative alterations in cognitions and mood (I’m bad, and it was my fault)
  • Alterations in arousal and reactivity (hypervigilance)

To be PTSD one has to have direct exposure and experience, not indirect (i.e. media, video games etc.) that causes these responses. If you have experienced a qualifying traumatic event it will manifest in the following ways:

  • recurrent, involuntary and intrusive memories
  • traumatic nightmares
  • dissociative reactions
  • intense or prolonged distress after exposure to traumatic reminders (triggers)
  • marked physiologic reactivity after exposure to trauma related stimuli

If you or a loved one experiences PTSD the most common treatments are:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (learn how to change your thought patterns and reality test)
  • Exposure therapy (systematic desensitization by careful exposure to lesser but similar and increasingly intense trigger stimuli)
  • Psychodynamic therapies (classic “talk therapy”)
  • Relaxation therapies (learn how to relax your body and calm down from an aroused state)
  • Group Therapy (guided sharing conversations to help normalize and make past experiences safer)
  • EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy)

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