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How To Get Help For Ptsd

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Where To Find Treatment

There are a variety of treatment options available, with new and innovative techniques emerging and being researched for their effectiveness. The key to accessing treatment is to acknowledge that these resources could be helpful to you or your loved one. People who struggle with PTSD often experience feelings of shame and fear, finding it difficult to initiate seeking help. Many struggle in isolation with hope that the symptoms they are experiencing will go away on their own.

If you are having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 for support and assistance from a trained counselor. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

Where Can I Find More Information On Ptsd

The National Center for PTSD, a program of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, is the leading federal center for research and education on PTSD and traumatic stress. You can find information about PTSD, treatment options, and getting help, as well as additional resources for families, friends, and providers.

Children And Young People

Trauma-focused CBT is usually recommended for children and young people with PTSD.

This normally involves a course of 6 to 12 sessions that have been adapted to suit the child’s age, circumstances and level of development.

Where appropriate, treatment includes consulting with and involving the child’s family.

Children who do not respond to trauma-focused CBT may be offered EMDR.

Ptsd Symptoms And Warning Signs

Symptoms of PTSD, as stated above, can present themselves through somebodys mental, physical, and behavioral health. These symptoms can range in severity, which is why they can be hard to detect for some veterans. Additionally, symptoms dont always show up right after youve gone through a traumatic eventand they arent always consistent.

Be sure to speak to a mental health professional who understands veterans if you or a loved one experiences any of the following signs of PTSD.

American Academy Of Experts In Traumatic Stress

What Causes PTSD & What Are Its Risk Factors?  SheKnows

The American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress is a network of professionals who are dedicated to the care and support of individuals whove experienced traumatic events in their lives. The academy not only strives to increase awareness of PTSD, but it also recognizes professionals in different disciplines whove demonstrated an understanding of what occurs during traumatic stress, which allows them to help victims become survivors.

Ptsd Symptoms And How To Get Help

Many United States military personnel experience post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms at some point in their lives. But leaving PTSD untreated can lead to a lot of complications, including angry outbursts, substance use disorders, and further mental health concerns. 

If you are concerned that you or a loved one has PTSD, this article is here to help you understand everything you need to know about the signs and symptoms of PTSD in order for you to seek the treatment you might need.

Contents

  • Find Treatment Today
  • Living With Someone Who Has Ptsd

    Its hard not to take the symptoms of PTSD personally, but its important to remember that a person with PTSD may not always have control over their behavior. Your loved ones nervous system is stuck in a state of constant alert, making them continually feel vulnerable and unsafe, or having to relive the traumatic experience over and over. This can lead to anger, irritability, depression, mistrust, and other PTSD symptoms that your loved one cant simply choose to turn off.

    With the right support from you and other family and friends, though, your loved ones nervous system can become unstuck. With these tips, you can help them to finally move on from the traumatic event and enable your life together to return to normal.

    Get Your Daily Routines And Rituals In Place

    Most people who experience a crisis lose that ability to get up, eat, care for themselves, and then move about their day. The sooner you re-establish your daily routine the better.

    When children are involved the recommendation is the sooner you can resume family rituals the better. Get back to your spiritual home. Remember to have some sort of ritual in your life; birthdays, Christmas, or any other familiar activity makes everyone feel better.

    Returning to a job or other activity can be a great way to begin your recovery. If you cant work at a paid job consider volunteering. Having a reason to get up and out of the house can jump-start your recovery.

    A regular and consistent amount of sleep is important. So is some form of exercise. Be as consistent as possible with mealtimes and bedtimes. Include time for relaxation and positive activities.

    Anticipate And Manage Triggers

    A trigger can be anythinga place, person, situation, or thingthat reminds the person of the trauma and set off their PTSD. Sometimes, a trigger is obvious, while others may take time to understand and identify. Triggers dont necessarily have to be external. Internal sensations and feelings can also trigger PTSD symptoms.

    You should ask your friend or loved one about things theyve done in the past to respond to triggers that helped or something that didnt help. You can come up with a game plan together for how youll react to these in the future.

    What Questions Should I Ask

    If someone develops PTSD because of an ongoing source of trauma such as an abusive relationship, they will need help addressing their mental health issues as well as the traumatic environment contributing to them. A good first step is to call a post-traumatic stress disorder helpline. Other associated issues can include panic disorder, chronic depression, substance abuse, and suicidality.2 The purpose of a PTSD hotline is to provide information and connect you to services.

    Here are some questions you may want to write down before calling a PTSD crisis hotline about your condition:

    • How do I know if I have PTSD?
    • What do I do if Im having a flashback or recurring nightmare?
    • Can PTSD be treated or overcome?
    • Do I need medication or therapy?
    • What are the symptoms of PTSD?
    • What if I have other mental health issues?
    • Do I need to go to a special treatment program for PTSD?
    • How do I find the best form of treatment for my individual issues?
    • How much does PTSD treatment cost? Will my insurance cover it?
    • Will I ever feel normal?
    • What are the next steps I should take?

    It is important to realize that it may take time, but with treatment, your loved one can recover.

    Here are some questions to ask if you are calling about a loved ones condition:

    Physical Signs Of Ptsd

    One of the biggest misconceptions about PTSD is that it only causes emotional distress. While emotional symptoms are certainly part of the disorder, your body could also be expressing signs of PTSD through physiological or physical symptoms.

    The mental health signs of PTSD listed above often go hand-in-hand with the physical symptoms, which include:

    • Headaches
    • Chest pains
    • Dizziness

    The physical symptoms of PTSD can greatly impact your ability to work, socialize, exercise, etc. But its important to seek treatment for the mental health aspect of PTSD in addition to these physical sensationswithout the right therapies and coping strategies to better your mental health, your physical symptoms might continue to get worse.

    Ptsd In Children And Teens

    Children can have PTSD too. They may have the symptoms listed above and/or symptoms that depend on how old they are. As children get older, their symptoms are more like those of adults.

    • Young children may become upset if their parents are not close by. Or children may have trouble sleeping or suddenly have trouble with toilet training or going to the washroom.
    • Children who are in the first few years of elementary school may act out the trauma through play, drawings, or stories. They may complain of physical problems or become more irritable or aggressive. They also may have fears and anxiety that don’t seem to be caused by the traumatic event.

    If you think you or a loved one has symptoms of PTSD, see your doctor right away. Treatment can work, and early treatment may help reduce long-term symptoms.

    How Canada Is Helping

    PTSD Archives

    Canada is committed to addressing PTSD. We passed the Federal Framework on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Act in June 2018. The Act recognizes that all Canadians can be at risk for PTSD and that a great number face higher risks because of the nature of their work.

    The Act led to a National Conference on PTSD in April 2019. Experts from across the country, including people with lived experience, shared their knowledge and views. With their involvement, we have developed Canadas first Federal Framework on Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.

    How Can I Help A Friend Or Relative Who Has Ptsd

    If you know someone who may be experiencing PTSD, the most important thing you can do is to help that person get the right diagnosis and treatment. Some people may need help making an appointment with their health care provider; others may benefit from having someone accompany them to their health care visits.

    If a close friend or relative is diagnosed with PTSD, you can encourage them to follow their treatment plan. If their symptoms do not get better after 6 to 8 weeks, you can encourage them to talk to their health care provider. You also can:

    • Offer emotional support, understanding, patience, and encouragement.
    • Learn about PTSD so you can understand what your friend is experiencing.
    • Listen carefully. Pay attention to the persons feelings and the situations that may trigger PTSD symptoms.

    Caution Do Not Start Digging Until You Know What Is Buried Out There Avoid Black Holes

    The first reaction of someone trying to recover from complex trauma and the approach of many counselors is to go searching for the buried details. People ask Why cant I remember things? Counselors are tempted to try to recover those lost memories. This can result in more trauma and pain and runs the risk of digging up stuff that wasnt really buried in your yard but the yards of neighbors or even fictional characters.

    Some serious damage has been done by forcing people to remember things way before they were ready and by hunting for things that you are not sure happened. Ask a kid often enough about sexual abuse and they will begin to remember things that may have happened or they think happened. These contaminated memories have resulted in a lot of extra pain.

    There are a number of other steps that need to be completed before you go digging into the past for answers. The brain tries to protect us by hiding details from us that might keep us from functioning well enough to survive. Trust the process.

    Cognition And Mood Symptoms Include:

    • Trouble remembering key features of the traumatic event
    • Negative thoughts about oneself or the world
    • Distorted feelings like guilt or blame
    • Loss of interest in enjoyable activities

    Cognition and mood symptoms can begin or worsen after the traumatic event, but are not due to injury or substance use. These symptoms can make the person feel alienated or detached from friends or family members.

    It is natural to have some of these symptoms for a few weeks after a dangerous event. When the symptoms last more than a month, seriously affect ones ability to function, and are not due to substance use, medical illness, or anything except the event itself, they might be PTSD. Some people with PTSD dont show any symptoms for weeks or months. PTSD is often accompanied by depression, substance abuse, or one or more of the other anxiety disorders.

    What Services Does Va Provide For Ptsd

    We have almost 200 PTSD treatment programs across the country that offer:

    • 1-to-1 mental health assessment and testing to figure out if you have PTSD
    • Medicine proven to work for treating PTSD
    • 1-to-1 psychotherapy . This includes proven methods like Cognitive Processing Therapy .
    • 1-to-1 family therapy
    • Group therapy for special needs, like anger or stress management, or combat support
    • Group therapy for Veterans who served in certain combat zones or whove been through similar traumas

    We also offer other forms of treatment and support:

    • PTSD specialists provide regular outpatient care to Veterans with PTSD in each VA medical center across the U.S.
    • Special residential or inpatient care programsfound in each region of the U.S.help Veterans with severe PTSD symptoms who have trouble doing normal daily activities .
    • Providers offer added PTSD care in some of our large community-based outpatient clinics.

    Please note: If you dont live near a VA medical center or clinic, our mental health providers can counsel you over the phone . Or, we can refer you to a Vet Center or health care provider near you.

    How Can You Help Someone With Ptsd

    Post-traumatic stress disorder is an often crippling condition that affects a significant portion of our society. According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, nearly six of every 10 men and five of every 10 women will experience at least a single trauma in their lives. Women are more likely to experience child sexual abuse or sexual assault than men. In contrast, men are more likely to experience combat disasters, physical assault, experience accidents, or witness severe injury or death.

    When it comes to PTSD, you should never look at it as a sign of weakness. Several factors can increase the odds someone will develop PTSD, which are out of a persons control. If you were directly exposed to a severe injury or trauma, your chances are elevated of developing PTSD.

    In a given year, an estimated 8 million adults will deal with PTSD, while seven or eight out of every 100 people will experience PTSD at some point in their lives. If you know someone who is struggling with the condition, you might wonder how you can help them. Below, well explain how you can help someone with PTSD step-by-step.

    Remind Your Loved One: People Recover

    Encourage them to find the right therapist.That is something that takes some effort. In order to recover from complex ptsd, its vital that your loved one receive competent trauma informed care. While therapists regularly encounter the survivors of trauma, most do not have much training in treating trauma.

    Trauma treatment is a specialty that requires advanced clinical training. Having provided clinical supervision to Bay Area Therapists for over 15 years, I am completely unaware of any graduate school that provides even the most bare amount of trauma treatment training.

    Its vital that your loved one with C-PTSD is in treatment with a trauma therapist who:

    • Provides education to the patient about the nervous system and its role in developing trauma symptoms.
    • Teaches emotional regulation skills

    How To Diagnose Ptsd

    The first step in diagnosing trauma is making an appointment with a doctor, preferably someone trained in mental health disorders. The doctor will talk with the patient to determine their state of mind. The practitioner will have to determine whether the prerequisite symptoms for PTSD are present before deciding how to proceed. For a diagnosis of PTSD, the patient must have experienced the following for at least one month:

    • At least one event in which they re-experience symptoms
    • At least three avoidance symptoms
    • At least two hyperarousal symptoms
    • Symptoms that interfere with daily life activities

    What Can Ptsd Look Like

    Road to Recovery: Getting help for PTSD

    PTSD is not entirely predictable. Of two people who experience the same traumatic event, one might develop PTSD while the other is briefly shaken but fully recovers. And PTSD might not take hold immediately after a traumait can happen “a year later, a month later, a week later,” Dornfeld said.

    Everyone is different, but a person with PTSD might:

    1. Have flashbacks. People who are coping with PTSD might re-live their trauma in the form of flashbacks, nightmares or frightening thoughts, Dornfeld said. Sometimes there’s a trigger for these flashbacks, “other times it just happensthey’re driving or riding in a bus and they re-experience these things.” This can be really scary for the person going through it.

    2. Avoid specific places or situations. You might notice that someone who has experienced trauma is “staying away from places or events or objects, anything that reminds them of their traumatic experience,” Dornfeld said. “They’re trying to avoid thoughts or feelings related to it.”

    3. Get startled or angry easily. A person experiencing PTSD might experience changes to their personality: “they could be startled really easily or be on the edge all the time” or have angry outbursts, trouble remembering things or negative thoughts about themselves, Dornfeld said.

    Talking Treatments For Ptsd

    The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence the organisation that produces guidelines on best practice in health care currently recommends two types of talking treatment for PTSD:

    • Trauma-focused cognitive behavioural therapy . This is a form of cognitive behavioural therapy specifically adapted for PTSD. NICE recommends that you are offered 812 regular sessions of around 6090 minutes, seeing the same therapist at least once a week. See our pages on  for more information about this therapy.
    • Eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing . This is a fairly new treatment that can reduce PTSD symptoms such as being easily startled. It involves making rhythmic eye movements while recalling the traumatic event. The rapid eye movements are intended to create a similar effect to the way your brain processes memories and experiences while you’re sleeping. EMDR UK & Ireland – a professional association of EMDR clinicians and researchers – provides extensive information about EMDR on its website.

    NICE may recommend other talking treatments in future if they are found to help with PTSD, but more research is needed.

    “One of the most disturbing things has been the feelings of aggression and anger towards anyone who looks like the person who attacked me… EMDR therapy has been massively helpful.”

    What if I don’t feel better?

    If the talking treatment you try doesn’t seem to be helping, NICE suggests that you:

    You Can Recover From Complex Trauma Or Complex Ptsd

    Complex Trauma or Complex PTSD is the result of repeated injuries, each of which creates additional trauma. Complex Trauma frequently arises in children who are abused or neglected over long periods of time or survivors of sexual assaults who are re-assaulted.

    Being injured once is bad enough but repeated traumatization can result in problems far in excess of those caused by a single trauma. People who were traumatized in childhood and then retraumatize in later life are likely to develop severe and debilitating symptoms. Some researchers have suggested the name of Complex Trauma or Complex PTSD for this condition.

    It appears that many people can experience severe trauma, recover, and not develop PTSD. Some of the symptoms of PTSD are normal reactions to experiencing trauma in the short run. If the reaction is excessive, interferes with a job, friendships or relationships then it first becomes Acute Stress Disorder when the symptoms continue for long periods of time and seriously interfere with functioning the name and diagnosis is changed to Posttraumatic Stress Disorder .

    Complex Trauma adds trauma upon trauma and results in long-term suffering.

    Some treatments make the symptoms of Complex Trauma worse and some things are effective in treatment. Here are the basic rules for recovering from Complex Trauma. I based this on the research of Conner & Higgins and their description of the work of Chu, with my own usually twists.

    Helpful Resources To Find Treatment In Your Area

    • ACOG offers a 24 Hour Hotline for women in abusive situations.
    • ADAA links to a PTSD mobile coaching app .
    • ADAA provides adirectory of local mental health professionals.
    • ADAA lets you search for PTSD support groups in your area, or walks you through the steps to start your own support group.
    • ISTSS provides a Clinician Directory that allows you to search for a mental health professional based on your location, doctor specialty, special interests, demographic, and language.
    • Sidran Institute offers a Help Desk to find personalized, compassionate support.

     

    If you are unsure of where you can go to get help for PTSD, look for mental health or medical professionals in your area, such as:

    • Your family doctor
    • Private clinics
    • Psychiatric services at local universities, schools, or hospitals

    If you are a veteran, contact the Veterans Crisis Line at 1.800.273.8255 for assistance locating a mental health facility near you.

    How Can I Find Help

    The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration provides the NIMH’s Help for Mental Illnesses webpage.

    If you or someone you know is in immediate distress or is thinking about hurting themselves, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline toll-free at 1-800-273-TALK . You also can text the Crisis Text Line or use the Lifeline Chat on the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website.

    Why Do Some People Develop Ptsd And Other People Do Not

    It is important to remember that not everyone who lives through a dangerous event develops PTSD. In fact, most people will not develop the disorder.

    Many factors play a part in whether a person will develop PTSD. Some examples are listed below. Risk factors make a person more likely to develop PTSD. Other factors, called resilience factors, can help reduce the risk of the disorder.

    Some factors that increase risk for PTSD include:

    • Living through dangerous events and traumas
    • Getting hurt
    • Feeling horror, helplessness, or extreme fear
    • Having little or no social support after the event
    • Dealing with extra stress after the event, such as loss of a loved one, pain and injury, or loss of a job or home
    • Having a history of mental illness or substance abuse

    Some factors that may promote recovery after trauma include:

    • Seeking out support from other people, such as friends and family
    • Finding a support group after a traumatic event
    • Learning to feel good about ones own actions in the face of danger
    • Having a positive coping strategy, or a way of getting through the bad event and learning from it
    • Being able to act and respond effectively despite feeling fear

    Researchers are studying the importance of these and other risk and resilience factors, including genetics and neurobiology. With more research, someday it may be possible to predict who is likely to develop PTSD and to prevent it.

    How To Help Someone With Complex Ptsd

    Its awful to see someone you love suffer. You see how anxious and triggered they can get. Their mood swings. You see how troubled they become in intimate relationships. And you say to yourself I wish I knew how to help someone with Complex PTSD.

    Complex PTSD is the result of surviving repeated abuse. Sadly, it often occurs at the hands of those who are supposed to love and care for us the most. Often the signs of complex trauma are overlooked.  The survivor my struggle with how to explain complex PTSD to their loved ones.

    Its this fact that is makes recovery from C-PTSD so challenging.

    What Are The Signs & Symptoms Of Ptsd

    Symptoms of PTSD usually develop within the first month after the trauma. But in some cases, they can start months or even years later. Symptoms can go on for years or they can go away and then come back if another event brings up memories of the trauma. In fact, anniversaries of the event can cause a flood of emotions and unpleasant memories.

    Someone with PTSD might have some or all of these symptoms:

    • Reliving the traumatic event. People with PTSD might have nightmares, flashbacks, or disturbing mental images about the trauma.
    • Avoiding reminders of the trauma. People with PTSD may avoid people, places, or activities that remind them of the stressful event. They also may avoid talking about what happened, even to a therapist or counselor.
    • Emotional numbness. Many people with PTSD feel numb or detached. They may view the world more negatively or feel like they can’t trust anything. Scientists and doctors think this might be because the body makes too much of some in the brain that numb the senses during stress.
    • Anxiety. People with PTSD may be easily startled, on edge, jumpy, irritable, or tense. This may be due to high levels of stress hormones in the body. Difficulty concentrating and trouble sleeping can be part of this hyper-alert, anxious state.

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