Friday, June 12, 2015

The Many Faces of PTSD -- Part III


Treatment for PTSD can help symptoms from getting worse, especially if help is sought soon after the event. But regardless of how long ago the traumatic event occurred, the following therapy options can help sufferers move forward, away from the feeling of being "trapped" in the trauma, to a future of calm, strength and hopefulness:

1. Family therapy
2. Trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy
3. Medication to alleviate secondary symptoms like depression, difficulty sleeping, panic or agitation
4. Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy

Like a home that needs to be rebuilt after a devastating tornado, the life of a survivor with PTSD can as surely be refashioned to allow the survivor to reclaim her power and step confidently into a resilient future.

If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with PTSD, reach out to your physician or contact a mental health professional in your area for help, The suffering of PTSD doesn't have to last--you have the right to take back your life and to move forward with health and happiness.

The Many Faces of PTSD - Part II

Clients with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) experience symptoms in a myriad of individualized ways. But some  similarities in their symptoms are shared by all survivors.


After the traumatic event, survivors report the following characteristics:

1. Distressing memories of the trauma
2. Dreams related to the event
3. Flashbacks of the experience
4. Avoidance of stimuli associated with the event (I.e., a survivor of a catastrophic car accident may choose not to drive or even to travel in a car; a sexual assault survivor may avoid approaching the neighborhood in which she was attacked.)

Other symptoms include a negative alteration in cognition and mood, People who may have been high functioning and coping well with typical life struggles may find it difficult to combat depressive moods, panic or anxiety, and may experience difficulties in concentration and memory. It's not uncommon for survivors to report being unable to remember important aspects of the traumatic event. Calm, passive imdividuals can become quick-tempered or even exhibit verbal or physical aggression. Difficulties with sleep, emotional regulation, fatigue and somatic complaints often plague survirors.

Next week: Treatment and recovery from PTSD. 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Many Faces of PTSD - Part I

"PTSD is a whole body tragedy, an integral human event of enormous proportions with massive repercussions." Susan Pease Banitt 

June is National Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Month. Most people are familiar with PTSD as a syndrome often experienced by combat soldiers. In reality, PTSD is a challenge for people of all ages, from all walks of life. 

Defining PTSD

PTSD can result from experiences of actual or THREATENED death, injury or sexual violence. Sufferers may be diagnosed with PTSD even if those experiences occurred to a family member or close friend. In addition to war veterans, survivors of abuse, physical assault, violent crime, natural disasters, severe automotive accidents and witnessing domestic violence are also at much higher risk of developing PTSD. Children, who may have less resilience and underdeveloped coping skills due to their limited life experience, are especially vulnerable to being diagnosed with PTSD as a result of trauma exposure. 

Next week's blog will detail symptoms of PTSD. 

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Four Pillars of Emotional Fitness

Movement is essential to keep our bodies in good working order. We walk on the treadmill, lift weights or practice yoga to improve our physical health and increase our lifespan. The characteristics that determine peak physical health can also be applied to our emotional health.

1. FLEXIBILTY.  Emotionally healthy people are able to adapt to various situations and responses. They can bend to accommodate different life realities, and are able to embrace the "gray" in life, rather than seeing the world as "black or white."
2. RESILIENCE. Resilience can be defined as the ability to bounce back quickly from injury or setback. Resilient people see failure as part of the path to success; they don't allow obstacles to keep them from their goals, and they can pick themselves up when life knocks them over with unexpected circumstances.
3. ENDURANCE. Emotionally healthy people can withstand the pressures of life without breaking. They have developed the emotional "muscles" to delay instant gratification and stick with a task or relationship fraught with challenges without giving in to the impulse to bail out or seek out the easy fix.
4. STRENGTH. Just as physically healthy people have bodies that can life heavy weights or hold challenging yoga poses, emotional healthy people have the fortitude to weather difficult emotions, longstanding pressures and psychological stressors without losing confidence in their abilities and self-worth.

A gym or yoga studio membership can provide us with a venue to work out our physical selves. Consider investing in your emotional health by engaging in therapy, reading self-help books, developing a meditation practice and surrounding yourself with positive, supportive people. Whether or not you can finish a marathon, enhancing your emotional fitness is a a finish line everyone can cross.