Every year, eight million adults suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), be it from sexual assault, physical trauma or trauma inflicted during combat situations. Commonly associated with war veterans, PTSD can be incredibly debilitating, causing depression, anxiety, hopelessness, flashbacks to the event and behavioral changes.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), “It is natural to feel afraid after a traumatic situation. Fear triggers many split-second changes in the body to help defend against danger or to avoid it. This fight-or-flight response is a typical reaction meant to protect a person from harm. Nearly everyone will experience a range of reactions after trauma, yet most people recover from initial symptoms naturally. Those who continue to experience problems may be diagnosed with PTSD. People with PTSD may feel stressed or frightened, even when they are not in danger.”
Treatment Options for PTSD
PTSD is inherently complex, varying in symptoms from one person to the next. Much research has been done to parse the physiological and mental manifestations of PTSD. Dr. John Huang, licensed psychologist from The Mental Health Collective, has dedicated much of his time studying Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) and its potential to treat PTSD patients.
Dr. Huang says, “At times the brain can become overstimulated: sights, sounds, smells, emotions can be so intense the brain will not be able to process them all at once, much like a computer that can crash when it is running too many programs at the same time. EMDR involves looking at the trauma, feeling the associated feelings, and re-experiencing some of the sensory perceptions. We then take those experiences and organize them in chronological order. The brain is no longer overloaded because everything has a place. There are elements of processing, exposure, and cognitive elements.”
Dr. Huang believes that through this treatment method, the clinician can achieve a birds-eye view of the patient’s broad human experience, rather than remaining fixated on the part of the experience the patient most vividly recalls. He says, “The process is challenging, but in the end, the patients feel the work to be worthwhile.”
In addition to EMDR, other recommended treatment options by the American Psychological Association (APA) include variations of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which “focuses on the relationships among thoughts, feelings, and behaviors; targets current problems and symptoms; and focuses on changing patterns of behaviors, thoughts, and feelings that lead to difficulties functioning.”
If you are struggling with symptoms of PTSD, it is important that you seek help from a qualified mental healthcare professional, as well as talk to your loved ones for support. If someone you know is struggling with PTSD, The Mental Health Collective is ready to help or direct you to local resources 888.717.9355
Written By: S. Mishkin
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