Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD is a mental health condition that people sometimes develop after one or more life-threatening or otherwise traumatizing events. Some examples of traumatic events that may result in PTSD include a serious car accident, sexual assault, or experiencing live combat.
It’s completely natural to be afraid during and after a traumatic situation. This fear triggers rapid physiological changes in the body intended to prepare us to protect ourselves or avoid danger. This instinct, commonly called the “fight or flight” response is also a core factor in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
PTSD is a condition in which trauma survivors may keep re-experiencing traumatic memories and the fear and “fight or flight” response associated with them long after the traumatic event has passed. A person with PTSD may be troubled by recurring dreams or memories of the event(s). They may also be triggered into experiencing similar fear by stimuli that remind them of the original trauma.
For example, a person who has survived a house fire may later have intense and disturbing memories of the fire. They might have realistic nightmares (flashbacks) where they feel as though they are inside the burning house trying to escape again, just as they did on the night it happened. Flashbacks and other PTSD symptoms can continue to trouble someone for many years, even decades after the original events.
Physical symptoms of PTSD may include:
Psychological symptoms of PTSD may include:
Hyper-vigilance or “jumpiness”: Feeling constantly on edge, looking for signs of danger, anxious, and easily startled.
Only a trained medical professional can formally diagnose a mental health condition like PTSD. However, if you or someone you love is experiencing any of the symptoms of PTSD listed on this page, then exploring the possibility that PTSD is present is worth exploring. PTSD often co-occurs with other mental health conditions, like substance use disorders.
PTSD can be very disruptive to everyday living. People living with PTSD are often unaware of their diagnosis. It’s not unusual for them to attribute the symptoms to something else entirely, like depression, insomnia, or indigestion, for example. They also may not realize that seemingly unrelated physiological symptoms can all be tied to PTSD.
Being formally diagnosed can be something of a revelation for those with PTSD. Suddenly everything seems to make sense once they recognize the original event(s) which precipitated their PTSD and they understand how and why their condition has manifested in their PTSD symptoms.
Unfortunately, time alone cannot heal all wounds. In spite of the saying, the damage caused by trauma often runs too deep and too wide to simply be forgotten about. In fact, it may make little difference whether or not 10 months or 10 years, or more have passed since the traumatic event(s). For a person suffering from PTSD, the passage of time doesn’t insulate them from their symptoms.
The good news is that a great deal of research has been done on trauma and the conditions associated with it. We have a better understanding of the physiological mechanisms at work in a person with PTSD now than ever before. This greater understanding has led to more effective, evidence-based treatment for PTSD and other trauma conditions. If you or someone you love is living with PTSD, there are good reasons to have hope for relief and recovery.
Cottonwood utilizes numerous approaches to treating PTSD, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). When appropriate and safe, we may also incorporate exposure therapy where the client is led through the process of dealing with negative emotions caused by the trauma.
The most common treatment for PTSD is a combination of medication (such as anti-anxiety medicine and antidepressants) and CBT. Some individuals with PTSD may find other forms of treatment that work best for them. As with other anxiety disorders, proper diet and recreational therapy can help reduce PTSD symptoms.
At Cottonwood, our PTSD program uses a combination of evidence-based treatment methods and holistic options that help survivors move on from painful memories.
Some of our specialized trauma services include:
Healing from the compound effects of trauma is a process. It will take time, energy, and courage to make progress. But, PTSD recovery is absolutely a realistic and attainable goal. You or your loved one do not need to live under the weight of past, unprocessed trauma any longer.
Cottonwood Tucson has earned its reputation for delivering exceptional care by remaining at the leading edge of developments in mental health treatment. We have been helping people overcome mental health conditions like PTSD for over 25 years. If you or someone you love could benefit from treatment for mental health or a substance use disorder, Cottonwood Tucson is ready to help. Contact us anytime, 24 hours a day at (888) 433-1069.