If you’ve lived through a trauma, even if you weren’t physically harmed, you know how you feel sometimes. A slamming door may remind you of a car accident, a firecracker, of a gunshot. But if these feelings last all day for months or years, you may be suffering from PTSD.
What Is Ptsd?
“Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric disorder that may occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, or other dangerous situations that a person lives through, either with or without being injured.
The American Psychiatric Association notes the condition’s long history, even before it was officially recognized in 1980. Over the years, it has been referred to by many names, like “shell shock” during World War I and “combat fatigue” following World War II, but PTSD can happen in anyone at any age.
Ptsd By The Numbers
According to some studies, PTSD affects about 3.5 percent of U.S. adults each year, and an estimated one in 11 people can expect a PTSD diagnosis in their lifetime. Women get PTSD twice as often as men. Three ethnic groups – African Americans, American Indians, and U.S. Latinos – are overly affected and show higher rates of post-traumatic stress disorder than whites of non-Latino heritage. Despite mainstream media reports, PTSD affects more than just U.S. combat veterans.
How To Diagnose Ptsd
If you believe you’re suffering from PTSD, the best way to find out is through diagnosis. In most cases, you can expect to undergo a physical exam and lab tests by a medical doctor, as well as a psychiatric evaluation from a mental health professional. Diagnosis may also depend on comparing your symptoms with criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition. The goal, however, is to determine the underlying cause.
Therapy For Ptsd
Psychiatrists and other mental health professionals use different effective and research-validated therapies to help people improve from symptoms of PTSD. Because no two people are the same, therapy is often tailored based on factors like overall mental and physical health, the duration and severity of the symptoms, and willingness to try certain treatment options. Here are several to ask about.
- Ketamine, which was introduced in the early 1960s and used primarily as a preoperative anesthetic. It gained widespread acceptance and popularity during field trials on wounded U.S. combat troops fighting in Southeast Asia. Soon afterward, doctors, scientists, and private citizens discovered its other curative powers, including ketamine’s ability to soothe the symptoms of mental illness and chronic physical ailments which didn’t respond to previous treatment.
- Cognitive Processing Therapy, which focuses on changing painful negative emotions caused by a traumatic event, which may include shame, guilt, and beliefs that can lead to stress, such as “I am a failure,” or “the world is unsafe.” Doctors or clinicians help the person face such distressing emotions and memories and return to productive everyday living.
- Prolonged Exposure Therapy, which uses recurring, detailed envisioning of the trauma or liberal exposures to symptom prompts in a secure, controlled manner to confront someone and gain control of distress and fear and build valuable coping mechanisms. As an example of technological advancements, virtual reality programs are now utilized to assist war veterans with PTSD to re-experience the battlefield in a regulated, therapeutic way.
- Stress Inoculation Therapy has the goal of arming someone affected by PTSD with the required coping skills to effectively defend against stress triggers through the application of milder levels of stress, like how a person is inoculated to prohibit infection following exposure to an illness.
- Ketamine is sometimes combined with other forms of psychotherapy, like group therapy. Group therapy helps survivors of comparable traumatic incidents to disclose their experiences and responses in a non-judgmental and comfortable setting. Group members help each other realize that many people would have the same responses and experience the same emotions.
- The National Center for PTSD has also reported on other complementary therapies for PTSD, like relaxation, meditation, and acupuncture. Before starting therapy, it’s critical to ask about risks and benefits for each and choose one you’re comfortable with.
PTSD is a serious mental health condition affecting thousands of people in the U.S., and many more worldwide. If you experience symptoms, get help by talking to a doctor or mental healthcare professional, research the benefits of ketamine as a therapy, or contact us today to schedule a complimentary consultation.