Frequently Asked Questions About PTSD
About 60% of men and 50% of women experience at least one traumatic event throughout their lives, such as combat, a car accident, or sexual assault. While the majority of people recover from trauma naturally, 20% will go on to develop a serious illness known as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD drastically interferes with sufferers’ quality of life and ability to function. Thankfully, new treatment approaches, including transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), have brought hope to the millions of Americans who suffer from PTSD each year. Below, we discuss some of the most frequently asked questions about this mental health disorder, and offer options for recovery.
Who gets PTSD?
Post-traumatic stress disorder does not discriminate. It can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, race, income level, or other factors. While veterans face a significantly higher rate of PTSD than the general population, PTSD affects many civilians as well. About 10% of women develop post-traumatic stress disorder at some time in their lives, opposed to 4% of men. No one should be ashamed about having PTSD. Although certain conditions make some populations more vulnerable to the development of PTSD than others, anyone can be affected.
What are the symptoms of PTSD?
Post-traumatic stress disorder can look very different from individual to individual. Some people have a very low level of functioning while others can continue their work and social lives as usual. Two common symptoms are intrusive flashbacks and nightmares. Although the instigating trauma may have occurred very long ago, the sufferer will relive the experience as though it is happening in real-time.
Those suffering from PTSD might also use avoidance tactics in order to evade triggering locations or interactions. For instance, if you were in a traumatic car accident, you might avoid highways or even decide not to drive at all.
Another common symptom is a generally high level of irritability or anger. People with post-traumatic stress disorder may have frequent outbursts in reaction to seemingly trivial events. It is important for family and friends to recognize that this “hyper-arousal” is not personal, but a manifestation of the disorder.
How can I support a loved one with PTSD?
Sometimes it’s best to simply listen
While it can be tempting to try to “fix” someone with PTSD, often the best thing you can do is simply listen. People with PTSD do not need you to tell them what to do, compare their experience with others, or make them talk about their symptoms. Simply offering a compassionate ear is often the best thing you can do to help your loved one feel supported. They will likely open up in their own time.
Don’t pressure your loved into talking
By the same token, you must not give in to the temptation to make your loved one talk. Discussing a traumatic experience can induce flashbacks and other frightening PTSD symptoms, so individuals suffering from PTSD often will not want to delve into the details of their trauma until they are ready. Let your loved one know that you’re there when they’re ready to talk, and be patient.
Take care of yourself
One of the best things you can do to support someone with PTSD is manage your own stress. The calmer you are, the more you’ll be able to be there for your loved one. Basic acts of self-care, such as bathing, eating regular meals, and making time for yourself are all essential for ensuring your own physical and emotional wellbeing.
Consider attending a therapy session together
At Family Care Center in Colorado Springs, our team of mental health professionals provide exceptional family counseling services to help individuals suffering from PTSD, as well as their loved ones who are attempting to recover from the fallout of the disease. Not only can these family counseling sessions help your loved one learn how to deal with symptoms, but they can also help you better understand what they are going through.
Keep your promises
Individuals with PTSD often suffer from a lack of trust. In order to let your loved one know that you’re there for them, it’s important to honor your commitments and promises. Be consistent and follow through with what you say you’re going to do so you can rebuild the sense of intimacy and trust that was compromised by the traumatic experience.
Give your loved one space
It can be hard to walk away in the midst of a conflict, such as when your loved one lashes out at you for seemingly no reason, but it’s essential that you give them the space they need to cool down. Do not grab or crowd the person, as this can make them feel threatened. Go in another room and let them gather themselves. This will not only keep you and your loved one safe, but also help you avoid saying things you may later regret.
How is PTSD treated?
There are a number of effective treatment approaches to post-traumatic stress disorder, including psychotherapy, medication, and complementary practices, such as acupuncture or massage.
At the Family Care Center, we offer a variety of different styles of psychotherapy to suit you or your loved one’s individual symptoms and needs. One of these approaches is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which seeks to change a person’s thought patterns in order to help them recover. We also offer dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), an increasingly popular therapy modality focused on mindfulness, distress tolerance, interpersonal effectiveness, and emotion regulation. Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) is a combination of both of these approaches, which works to increase psychological flexibility. At the Family Care Center, we offer both individual and family counseling, so that all of those affected by PTSD can have hope for recovery.
One of our most popular PTSD treatments is transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). TMS is a medication-free, noninvasive, and painless procedure that involves applying pulses of magnetic energy to those areas of the brain that affect mood control. Although the biology of TMS is not completely understood, it has shown incredibly promising results in helping to improve symptoms of PTSD, depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders.
Finally, medications are another effective way to approach PTSD treatment, although they work best in combination with other treatment modalities. Some of the most common medications prescribed for PTSD are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which work by increasing levels of serotonin in the brain. At the Family Care Center, we offer comprehensive medication management services. Contact us today to discuss how we can help you or loved one recover from post-traumatic stress disorder.