Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) first entered our vocabulary when it was identified in soldiers who returned from tours of duty. It’s been identified in other first responders as well, and PTSD can and does occur in anyone who has been through a traumatic situation. Being involved in, or even witnessing situations such as assaults or abuse, kidnappings, car accidents, or serious or life-threatening injuries or illnesses can cause you to develop PTSD.
Symptoms & signs of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
There are common symptoms and signs that you’re experiencing PTSD that can come on immediately after the event or can even show up much later (even years later):
- Flashbacks to the unpleasant or traumatic situation
- Feelings of powerlessness
- Inability to move forward
- Survivor’s guilt
- Inappropriate use of alcohol or other substances (self-medicating)
- Self-destructive behaviours (problem gambling, excessive porn use, gaming, etc.)
- Thoughts of suicide
- Explosive outbursts of anger
- Feeling emotionally numb
- Feeling disconnected from loved ones or friends
- Avoiding people, places, or events that might remind you of the trauma you experienced
When is it time to get help?
If you’re experiencing the above symptoms, it’s a sure sign that you’re experiencing PTSD and it’s important that you seek help as soon as possible. Getting help early is important as symptoms tend to get worse over time. As well, left untreated, PTSD can become severe and lead to depression and even to thoughts of suicide. If you’ve experienced an event in which others died, you may be feeling survivor’s guilt, compounding your ability to get help (perhaps you feel you don’t deserve to feel better). If you’re struggling with the above symptoms and feeling like life itself is hard, it’s time to seek help.
If you, or someone you know is considering suicide, and is in a dangerous or life-threatening situation, please call 911 or proceed to your nearest emergency room.
For immediate help outside of our office hours, throughout Alberta, please call 211 or one of the following distress lines:
- Edmonton: The Crisis Centre call 780 482 HELP (4357)
- Greater Edmonton region: Rural Distress Line at 1-800-232-7288.
- Calgary: 403 266 HELP (4357)
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) treatment methods
There are several effective treatment methods for dealing with PTSD. Your therapist will discuss with you the best options for your individual circumstance. Some treatment methods that are typically successful in treating PTSD include:
- Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is an approach that works to help the brain process information, memories, sounds, and feelings in a way that makes them be seen in a new and less distressing way.
- Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based approach to treatment that focuses on how people’s thoughts, emotions, and beliefs influence their behaviour and how they perceive themselves.
- Narrative therapy is a form of psychotherapy that uses narratives to help people separate themselves from their problems.
- Exposure therapy is a form of treatment where your therapist will create a safe environment where they expose you to the triggers you may fear or try to avoid in an effort to decrease your anxiety towards that trigger.
- Virtual reality therapy is a computer-based system that allows a user to experience a sense of presence in a computer-generated or video presented three-dimensional environment.
What will I get out of treatment with Insight Psychological?
PTSD is a serious illness that should be dealt with as soon as symptoms are present. Working with your therapist, you can try one of the several therapeutic options that can help relieve the symptoms of PTSD. We can work with you administering treatments, providing coping tools and exercises, and help you to move forward from the trauma or event.