POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER
Trauma is often a lasting catastrophe that exposes an individual to death, destruction, or loss of home and community. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, is a psychological condition that occurs when facing deb
Intrusion: Intrusive thoughts such as repeated, involuntary memories; distressing dreams; or flashbacks of the traumatic event. Flashbacks may be so vivid that people feel they are re-living the traumatic experience or seeing it before their eyes.
Avoidance: Avoiding reminders of the traumatic event may include avoiding people, places, activities, objects and situations that may trigger distressing memories. People may try to avoid remembering or thinking about the traumatic event. They may resist talking about what happened or how they feel about it.
Alterations in cognition and mood: Inability to remember important aspects of the traumatic event, negative thoughts and feelings leading to ongoing and distorted beliefs about oneself or others (e.g., “I am bad,” “No one can be trusted”); distorted thoughts about the cause or consequences of the event leading to wrongly blaming self or other; ongoing fear, horror, anger, guilt or shame; much less interest in activities previously enjoyed; feeling detached or estranged from others; or being unable to experience positive emotions (a void of happiness or satisfaction).
Alterations in arousal and reactivity: Arousal and reactive symptoms may include being irritable and having angry outbursts; behaving recklessly or in a self-destructive way; being overly watchful of one's surroundings in a suspecting way; being easily startled; or having problems concentrating or sleeping.
TYPES OF PTSD
Involves persistent reexperiencing of the traumatic event:
Avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma
Treated with a combination of medication and therapy
Symptoms of increased arousal
Jumpiness, easily startled, being on edge
Alcohol or substance abuse
Other anxiety disorders
Combination of PTSD and other psychiatric disorders
Unable to manage basic self care/ work/ relationships
Acute Stress Disorder
intense bad memories
feelings of unreality
being cut off from relationships
bodily tension and distress
Patients usually achieve complete recovery within a few weeks
Occurs when healthy adults who have been exposed to a single discrete traumatic event in adulthood experience:
Normal Stress Response
Patients often are diagnosed with borderline or antisocial personality disorder or dissociative disorders
Exhibit behavioral difficulties:
Impulsivity, aggression, acting out sexually, eating disorders, alcohol/drug abuse, self-destructive actions
Extreme emotional difficulties:
Intense rage, depression, or panic
Fragmented thoughts, dissociation, amnesia
Treatment often takes much longer, may progress at a much slower rate
Requires a sensitive/highly structured treatment program delivered by team of trauma specialists
Affects those who have been exposed to prolonged traumatic circumstances, esp. during childhood (e.g. childhood sexual abuse)
Complex PTSD (aka “Disorder of Extreme Stress”)
STIGMA AROUND PTSD
Misconception vs. Reality
“PTSD only occurs in veterans.”
Anyone is susceptible to PTSD. Not all veterans suffer with PTSD and not all people with PTSD are veterans.
“PTSD is only flashbacks.”
Flashbacks don’t even always occur in people who suffer from PTSD.
“PTSD can’t occur with younger people.”
PTSD in children is quite possible due to child abuse, sexual abuse, seirous accidents, or injuries. The most prevalent symptoms in kids are nightmares, avoidance
“PTSD is just when people exaggerate their trauma for attention.”
PTSD is real, valid, and serious. Trauma will show up later in life, but PTSD is specifically the condition in whicih the presentation of trauma becomes an interference.
Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT)
Stress Inoculation Training (SIT)
Prolonged Exposure (PE)
Present Centered Therapy (PCT)
Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR).
Best results are achieved when both PTSD and other disorder(s) are treated together, rather than one after the other
Especially true for PTSD and alcohol/substance abuse
Project Calendula is intended to be a prelude for your mental health journey by guiding your education and advocacy. We are not a mental health service.
If you or someone you know are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (U.S.): 800-273-8255.
If you or someone you know are struggling, please visit the resources at the bottom of this section to find a mental health professional near you.
Please visit any of the following websites for further information on mental illness education.
Recovery Resources for BPD from the National Education Alliance for Borderline Personality Disorder: