Do I Have PTSD Quiz
Simply click on the link below and answer the questions to see if you are struggling with trauma symptoms.
What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?
by Nicole Mason, DMSc, PA-C, Psychiatry CAQ
February 2, 2024
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a complex and often misunderstood condition that can have profound effects on an individual's mental and emotional well-being. Emerging from traumatic events, PTSD is not a sign of weakness but a response to overwhelming stressors that can alter the way the brain processes and manages emotions. We will review into what PTSD is, its symptoms, and explore effective treatment options.
Do I have PTSD?
PTSD can develop after you experience or witnesses a traumatic event that involves actual or perceived threat to your life, safety, or physical well-being. Common triggers include traumatic life events such as combat exposure, sexual assault, natural disasters, accidents, and childhood abuse. The hallmark of this problem is the persistence of distressing symptoms beyond the initial trauma.
There are several symptoms of PTSD associated with trauma and stressful experiences. Some of these symptoms are:
Intrusive Thoughts and Memories: You may experience persistent and intrusive memories of the traumatic and stressful event. Flashbacks, nightmares, and distressing thoughts can disrupt daily life.
Avoidance: Sufferers often go to great lengths to avoid reminders of the trauma, including places, people, or activities associated with the event.
Negative Changes in Mood and Cognition: PTSD can lead to distorted beliefs about yourself or others, feelings of guilt or shame, and a persistent negative mood. Memory and concentration difficulties are also common.
Arousal and Reactivity: Hyperarousal symptoms, such as heightened startle response, irritability, and difficulty sleeping, are prevalent in those with this problem.
How Do I Treat My Trauma Symptoms?
Treatment for symptoms typically involves medication management, education, support from family members, and development of skills to help with symptoms of feeling worried and restless. Providers often involved in the treatment of trauma-related disorders are family medicine providers and mental health providers such as physician assistants, nurse practitioners, psychiatrists, and mental health therapists.
A licensed professional knowledgeable in the treatment of post traumatic stress disorder can help you choose from several types of medications to help or improve the symptoms. A few of these types of medication include:
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). This class of drugs help anxiety by allowing more of the neurotransmitter serotonin to be available for neuron use. They are overall safe drugs and some in this class are used even during pregnancy. Typical SSRIs include: citalopram (Celexa), escitalopram (Lexapro), fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil), sertraline (Zoloft), vortioxetine (Trintellix), and vilazodone (Viibryd).
Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). This class of drugs help anxiety by allowing more of the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and serotonin to be available for neuron use. Typical SNRIs include: duloxetine (Cymbalta), venlafaxine (Effexor XR), and desvenlafaxine (Pristiq).
Anxiolytics. This class of drugs help anxiety by increasing the action of serotonin receptors on neurons while also increasing levels of noradrenaline and dopamine. Typical anxiolytics include: buspirone (Buspar).
Atypical antidepressants. These types of medications have more than one specific mechanism of action. These include: mirtazapine (Remeron) and trazodone (though it does share many SSRI properties).
Tricyclic antidepressants. This class of drugs work in several ways to achieve their effects. They work to increase the levels of serotonin and norepinephrine available for neuron use. Typical tricyclic medications include: imipramine (Tofranil), nortriptyline (Pamelor), amitriptyline (Elavil), and doxepin.
Other medications. Other medications are sometimes needed in addition to the above commonly prescribed drugs. Sometimes drugs are combined or other medications such as mood stabilizers or antipsychotics are used.
Taking medication is an effective treatment that helps treat PTSD by reducing its symptoms. Medication can balance chemicals in the brain, making you feel better and more able to handle everyday situations. It's an effective way, under professional guidance, to manage and alleviate the challenges of symptoms from trauma and stressful events.
Types of Therapy
Counseling, also known as therapy, can help improve symptoms. Therapy does so by helping you develop skills to more effectively deal with the thoughts and feelings you are having in your daily life. These therapies consist of:
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). This type of therapy will help you deal better with anxiety by teaching you skills. These skills deal with helping you manage better and organize better. This type of therapy also help you deal with patterns of thinking and behavioral patterns.
Family therapy. Many people with anxiety have loved ones, family members, and spouses who are unfamiliar with anxiety. This type of therapy can help the family members overcome the stress caused by with living with someone who struggles with anxiety symptoms. Family therapy can also be a special support group for you.
Music therapy. This therapy utilizes music to help relax an individual to enhance their mood. Music therapy activates cognitive, motor, and speech centers in the brain to help improve overall functioning.
Talk therapy. This type of therapy employs a variety of techniques to help a person better deal with thoughts and behaviors.
Interpersonal therapy. IPT is a type of therapy that focus on personal relationships and how you feel. It is a short-term, intensive therapy.
Integrative therapy. This therapy approach takes aspects from different therapy types to create a personal therapy to best treat the presenting problem.
Where Can I Get PTSD Treatment?
At Pine Ridge Mental Healthcare, we’ve found long-term success using a variety of approaches to mental health conditions with effective treatment plans. Getting your symptoms under control is a key step in managing your life.
Our team works to reduce your reliance on medications by educating you about the different tools available and how life situations can affect your mood. We also take into account nutrition and physical activity and how it affects your health. And we help keep you on track with regular check-ins to monitor how you are progressing.
For more information about mental health disorders, finding treatment near me, or for help with a virtual online visit, schedule an appointment online or over the phone at Pine Ridge Mental Healthcare. If you are interested in other services we provide, check out our services page.
About The Author
Nicole Mason, DMSc, PA-C, Psychiatry CAQ
Dr. Nicole Mason is a distinguished medical professional and accomplished psychiatry physician associate/assistant (PA), known for her exceptional contributions to the field of medicine and psychiatry. In 2003, she graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a Chemistry degree with highest distinction in the curriculum. She then graduated from Midwestern University’s PA program where she completed a master’s project on the concept of international PAs, leading to that year’s Master’s Project Award. This original research was later published in PAEA. Upon completion of he PA degree, she transitioned into clinical care and education.
Fueled by her desire to make a profound impact on people's lives, she embarked on a pursuit of medicine and obtained her Doctor of Medical Sciences (DMSc) degree from the University of Lynchburg. This achievement symbolizes her dedication, hard work, and passion for advancing medical knowledge and providing compassionate care to patients.
Over her tenure as a PA, she has developed a deep passion for the underserved community, with prior medical missions’ trips both abroad and in her home community. With a heart set on helping those with mental health challenges, she has focused her career on psychiatry. Her compassionate approach to patient care, coupled with her extensive knowledge and experience in teaching and in science, has earned her the trust of both her peers and patients.