If you have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist act, war/combat, rape or other sexual violence, or childhood trauma, or if you have felt at risk for death, sexual violence, or serious injury, you may be experiencing posttraumatic stress disorder from that traumatic event.
RECOVERY VS. NON-RECOVERY
After a traumatic event, with time, most people recover. The people who recover have found a way to make sense of the traumatic event that allows them to move on from it. The traumatic event becomes a part of their life history . They can remember how they felt at the time of the trauma, but the event and the associated feelings are no longer a part of their daily lives.
People with PTSD, however, are in a state of non-recovery. The ways they are trying to make sense of the traumatic event aren’t working and are, in fact, keeping them stuck in it. The traumatic event continues to affect them on a daily basis, because they haven’t developed a way of thinking about the event that they can reconcile with their normal lives.
COMMON SYMPTOMS INCLUDE:
- Memories that ‘intrude’ on you in an unwanted way. They come at you when you don’t expect or want them to—maybe when you are falling asleep or aren’t feeling well.
- These memories may take the form of images, sounds, flashbacks, or nightmares
- Experiencing various negative thoughts
- These can be thoughts about the event, such as blaming yourself or others for the event, or that the trauma could have been prevented.
- These negative thoughts can also be about your present life, with distorted expectations of yourself, others, and the world around you.
- Experiencing various negative emotions, such as guilt, anger, shame, disgust, fear, horror, or feelings of detachment from others and activities you used to like participating in.
- Attempting to avoid or escape your intrusive memories, negative emotions, or negative thoughts are unbearable to you. For instance, keeping very busy, drinking or using drugs, not talking about the trauma, avoiding the site of the trauma, or withdrawing from others
- Numbing of positive emotions, such as joy, happiness, and love
- Hypervigilance, pronounced startled responses
- Problems with concentration
- Sleep difficulties
- Reckless or self-destructive behavior
TREATMENT FOR PTSD
Rachel uses an effective, recovery-focused treatment model, called Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT), to treat PTSD. This method of treatment is typically offered in 10 to 15 weekly, or twice per week, sessions. CPT is an evidence-based approach that produces positive changes in the way you think and feel. Unlike other forms of therapy, CPT is very structured. Each session, Rachel will teach you a new skill that progressively will allow you to move beyond the pain and take control of your traumatic memories. After each session, you will be given a written assignment to help you practice the skills you are learning so that you can apply them in your life moving forward. Through this treatment, you will learn to reflect on, redefine, and recover from your traumatic event so that you can reduce your distress, negative thoughts and feelings, and improve your daily life.
Take a look at this video for a more detailed overview of what CPT is and how it can help you if you’re struggling with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: