PTSD can occur in adults and children who have experience a traumatic experience. We offer information, help and resources.
The diagnosis for Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is complex. PTSD occurs in some people who have experienced a dangerous, shocking or scary event to themselves or a loved one. For example, people can have PTSD after the death of a loved one or if a family member or friend face a traumatic experience. Reactions to these types of events vary with every person. Everyone will have traumatic events in their lives however in most cases people will recover from these events. People who continue to experience these events, even then they are no longer in danger may have PTSD. Here are a few things to consider regarding PTSD:
Two specifications are noted including delayed expression and a dissociative subtype of PTSD, the latter of which is new to DSM-5. In both specifications, the full diagnostic criteria for PTSD must be met for application to be warranted. The complexity of diagnosing PTSD requires a mental health professional to assess and evaluate a full diagnosis.
Criterion A: stressor
The person was exposed to: death, threatened death, actual or threatened serious injury, or actual or threatened sexual violence, as follows: (one required)
Criterion B: intrusion symptoms
Criterion C: avoidance
Criterion D: negative alterations in cognitions and mood
Criterion E: alterations in arousal and reactivity
Criterion F: duration
Criterion G: functional significance
Criterion H: exclusion
Specify if: With dissociative symptoms
Specify if: With delayed expression
Treatment can help cure PTSD but it will take specialized care. Find a professional with experience dealing with PTSD issues and work with your medical physician to address the problems. Social support is helpful in the recovery process as well.
The manifestation of PTSD is different for everyone so treatment is individualized. The combination of therapeutic approaches as well as medication will have to be monitored carefully and will change over time. If the person with PTSD is in a situation where the danger continues to exist it is important to address that before continuing in treatment. Those will PTSD may also struggle through issues of depression, substance abuse, suicidal thoughts or attempts and anxiety.
Medication for PTSD include antidepressants which can address the issues of sadness, worry, anger and lack of feeling. If the physician providing the medication is not providing mental health therapy it is important that the two disciplines communicate about the effectiveness of the medication and therapy. Patients should always consult with their physician about additional side effects caused by medication.
Therapy may include individual treatment or participation in a group therapy approach. Treatment usually lasts around 6 to 12 weeks, however it can last longer. There is a strong correlation between success in treatment and support from family and friends.
There are various therapeutic approaches that can be implemented by a therapist during treatment. Almost all of the approaches include similar focuses including the understanding of symptoms, behavior skills, coping skills and identifying triggers. The following treatment approaches may be used in conjunction with medication to address PTSD:
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is focused on changing the patterns of thinking or behavior which in turn changes the way the person feels. CBT works by changing a persons attitude about their behavior by evaluating the thought process. This approach is relatively short term and focuses on helping the person learn additional coping skills and strategies to work through their problems. The lesson Decision Making is a technique used in CBT.
Exposure therapy is a method where the individual is gradually exposed to the things they were traumatized in a safe way. It can implement imagination, writing or visiting the location where the event occurred. The therapist teaches coping skills initially and then slow work with the individual to confront their fears. Exposure therapy can be a one time event or take a long time depending on the progress of the individual. The skill of Preventive Teaching is a technique used in Exposure Therapy.
This approach focuses on helping the person make sense of the traumatic experience. Sometimes people remember things differently than how they actually occurred. The person may feel guilt or shame for something they had no control over. This approach helps individuals look at the event and understand what occurred in a realistic way. The Smarter Parenting lesson Observe and Describe is a technique used by therapists in this approach.
A therapist may use a combination of these techniques during treatment.
Children suffering from PTSD can benefit from learning coping skills that are reinforced in the home. Smarter Parenting recommends using Effective Communication and Preventive Teaching to help parents working with children struggling with PTSD. These two lessons are a good start and once mastered should be supported by the other skills on this website.
Effective Communication will be essential in treatment and in the home. Establishing a safe environment where a child can communicate their thoughts and feelings openly will help increase the healing process and decrease stress on the child.
Tips for parents using this skill for PTSD:
Using Preventive Teaching will help PTSD children process their feelings before situations can trigger them. By addressing the trauma and triggers at home in a safe and neutral environment helps the child learn how to cope.
Tips for parents using this skill for PTSD:
There are more parenting skills on Smarter Parenting that work in conjunction with these lessons. Continue learning more of these skills by watching our parenting lesson that will give you additional tools to be a successful parent and raise happy, successful children.
This booklet on Understanding the Treatment of PTSD is produced by the Veteran’s Affairs Department. The booklet is especially helpful in understanding how treatment can be beneficial.
Get help finding a Support Group online.
Information from the Help Guide helps people understand how they can help someone struggling with PTSD.
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