Defining PTSD

Have you faced an event in which you were personally harmed or exposed to the immediate threat of personal harm? Like many who have endured this type of situation, you may be suffering aftereffects in the form of a mental health disorder known as PTSD. The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that 7.7 million adults in the US are afflicted with some form of the disorder.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can occur when you experience, or even witness, an event that is traumatic or terrifying. Usually, these are situations that involve physical harm, or there is a serious threat of physical harm.

When suffering from PTSD, you may find yourself replaying the event over and over in your mind. This emotional reaction can last for an extended duration—long after the threat itself has passed. The associated symptoms can range from mild to extremely severe. In many cases, those who fail to seek professional help or enter a PTSD recovery center become debilitated by the trauma. PTSD can interfere with social interactions, cause poor job performance, and lead to problems within the family.

Altus Treatment Center provides patients with a comfortable and supportive environment with professional medical staff to help you identify PTSD and begin the recovery process.

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PTSD symptoms

PTSD is diagnosed when the person who has experienced the traumatic event exhibits symptoms for at least one month afterward. It should be noted, however, that the symptoms might not be immediately present. In some cases, it can be months or years after an event that the sufferer begins to show serious symptoms that warrant entering a PTSD recovery center.

The most common symptoms:

  • Continually remembering the event and relieving the stress, flashbacks, and nightmares.
  • Avoiding places, people, and activities that the sufferer associates with the trauma.
  • Becoming emotionally numb
  • Difficulty sleeping and concentrating, experiencing anxiety and skittishness, easily provoked to anger

What triggers for PTSD?

  • Direct experience of a traumatic event (or events)
  • Witnessing a traumatic event (or events)
  • A close family member or close friend dying in a violent or accidental manner, or facing the threat of death by violent or accidental means
  • Continuous exposure to the disturbing details of traumatic events (Example: police officers repeatedly exposed to details of child abuse).

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PTSD sufferers

For most people, PTSD is typically associated with military veterans who have witnessed or experienced horrible events in war. It is an understandable connection to make. Up to 30% of Vietnam combat veterans suffer from PTSD, and veterans of the Afghanistan, Gulf and Iraq Wars fall in the 11-20% range.

However, PTSD is not limited to combat veterans and others who have served in the military. Any person involved in an incident such as a terror attack, kidnapping, natural disaster, serious automobile accident, or violent assault can also be affected. According to the American Journal of Psychiatry, PTSD will develop in 14-25% of those involved in a major trauma.

Research is still ongoing as to why some develop PTSD while others do not. The leading theory is that PTSD affects certain regions of the brain, as well as compounds called neurotransmitters—the chemical signaling mechanisms of the brain. A region of the brain known as the Amygdala is also of specific interest. This is where our fear response initiates, and it is thought to be hyperactive in those experiencing PTSD. Yet another region under investigation is the hippocampus, which is involved in the formation of memories. There may also be genetic factors, as well as environmental conditions, involved in PTSD.

Additional PTSD risk factors:

  • History of mental illness
  • Low self-esteem
  • Lack of social support
  • Previous trauma
  • Other stressful life changes

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Seeking help for PTSD

It can often be difficult for those close to a PTSD sufferer to understand the disorder. Sometimes this confusion complicates the process of encouraging the person to seek help because loved ones are unsure of how to approach the subject. The situation is made even more challenging because those suffering frequently isolate themselves. They may also deny that the problem exists.

Early diagnosis and treatment through a PTSD recovery center can be critical in addressing PTSD. In some cases, anger and aggression may escalate into violent outbursts when the disorder goes untreated. Other negative emotional states can cause a downward spiral into depression, suicidal thoughts and behaviors. If suicidal thoughts or tendencies are observed, seeking professional help as soon as possible is extremely important. Inpatient treatment for PTSD is often needed in these severe cases.

Altus Treatment Center offers a variety of options for treatment regimens including inpatient care, intensive outpatient care, and partial hospitalization for PTSD sufferers. Working in collaboration with psychologists, and highly trained counselors, and clinicians, our patients receive the best care and chance for recovery.

Many times those with PTSD will also attempt to self-medicate by using drugs or alcohol. These substances are also viewed as a means of escape. They offer temporary relief from troubling memories by inducing a level of numbness. If dependence or addiction develops, it can also cause treatment to be more difficult, because the symptoms tend to be greatly intensified.

Always keep in mind if you are considering entering an inpatient treatment for PTSD that you must be honest about your substance abuse if it has become a problem. You can confide in our staff and medical professionals, and trust that your information is kept in the strictest of confidence. We work with patients who want to get better, and we understand the level of trust that is needed to allow a stranger into your life to help you get well. We will work in collaboration with neighbor clinics to fill in the gaps for people who suffer from PTSD if those clinics cannot help patients themselves. Altus Treatment Center works in collaboration with other professionals to provide continuity of care at our facility as well.

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