What is it?
Trauma is an emotional response to a horrific event such as an accident, natural disaster, physical or sexual assault. Immediately following the event, shock and denial are typical. Longer term responses can include unpredictable emotions, flashbacks, strained relationships and physical symptoms. While these feelings are normal, some individuals have difficulty moving forward in their lives. Therapy can help these individual find effective ways of managing their emotions.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition which may occur after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety, intrusive thoughts of the event, as well as changes in behavior and/or appetite.
Most individuals who experience a traumatic event have temporary difficulty adjusting and coping, but with time and effective use of coping skills, they usually get better. If the symptoms get worse, or last for months or years, and impact daily functioning they may have PTSD.
Treatment for PTSD in effective and is crucial in order to reduce symptoms and improve functioning.
Symptoms of PTSD
Typically symptoms of PTSD occur within one month of a traumatic event, however, it is possible that symptoms may not appear until years later. These symptoms may impact daily functioning in various areas such as home, school, work or social settings.
The symptoms of PTSD are typically grouped into four types: avoidance, negative changes in thinking and mood, intrusive memories, and changes in physical and emotional reactions. Symptoms can change over time, and are oftentimes different from person to person.
Treatment for PTSD
There are effective, evidence-based treatment options for individuals who have a diagnosis of PTSD. At our practice, we use Cognitive Behavioral Therapies, including Exposure Therapy to treat PTSD. In exposure therapy, under a safe and well controlled environment, individuals are gradually immersed in situations they have long avoided, or asked to confront the traumas they have experienced in their lives.
Each individual is different as is the treatment approach we take with them. In therapy we have the ability to use a variety of evidence-based modalities such as:
- Imaginal exposure: Therapist-guided mental imagery
- Virtual reality exposure: Computer-generated environments
- In-vivo exposure: Confronting triggers in the real world