Post traumatic stress disorder has been in the news lately, because of all the cases of soldiers suffering form it on their return from active duty. While no doubt, it is a considerable burden for them, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD can happen to anyone exposed to a traumatic situation, even children. The causes for PTSD could be anything that puts the person in an unbearably stressful situation, especially one that causes or could have caused serious physical harm. Take this as an illustrative example. Suppose you’re alone in an elevator and the lights suddenly go out, or the power goes out and elevator stops midway. It’s not an immediately urgent or fatal position for you to be in, but even if you’re on the first floor or have no history of claustrophobia, your first reaction is of fear and panic, even though you know you’re safe. Now try to equate that with a situation where physical harm in inevitable, like a war zone where shelling is going on, or a child who has survived a school shooting, or a woman who has survived rape. These are all situations which leave behind intense emotional scarring- which causes PTSD.
The symptoms of PTSD can be very telling. Patients have flashbacks of the event, they tend to visualize the whole situation over and over again, and spend hours analyzing the way things should have been, or could have been. Severe emotional responses to normal, otherwise nonstressful situations can occur, with physical symptoms like palpitations, accelerated heart beat, sweating, tremors and panic attacks, accompanied by severe social anxiety. Patients of PTSD also may have insomnia or recurrent nightmares of the event, which adversely affects their quality of life even more. In some cases, PTSD patients block out the entire event form their memory altogether, but that does not always help with the symptoms that develop regardless.
Treatment of PTSD
Treatment of PTSD needs to have a cognitive, multifactorial approach. In a practice like ours, which is located just a couple hundred yards away from the site of the 9/11 disaster, we are very experienced in recognizing and understanding Post Traumatic Stress disorder. PTSD is not a disease, it is a reaction to a stressful event and cannot be cured simply by writing down some pills to fix the issue. PTSD requires intensive therapy to get to the root of the traumatic event. How it affected the patient, how it could have otherwise affected the patient, the patient’s response, there are many things that we consider before deciding upon and starting a comprehensive treatment approach that will cover all bases. We have extensive experience in treating patients of PTSD as well as other overlapping anxiety disorders.
We also have extensive experience in providing counseling in different applications, such as cognitive behavioral therapy for PTSD, in which we help patients analyze the events objectively, and consider the things that have caused them stress, and how they can now overcome it. We assist the patients in reaching healthy conclusions for themselves, and see how the negative impact of the situation can be overcome. We employ a multitude of approaches, such as Exposure therapy, in which hesitant patienst are helped to discuss the event over and over again, till it no longer weighs upon them with the fear or control it has before. In addition to common practices like talk therapy and anti anxiety and anti depressant medications, we also make use of innovative and highly effective EMDR intervention. Group therapy is also an open option for patients, to communicate and interact with people who have been in stressful situations not unlike their own, thus offering them even more understanding and support. Our practice has extensive experience in treating and helping patients of PTSD resume a normal and functional life.