PTSD Awareness Month

PTSD Awareness Month 2024: Understanding, Treatment, and Support at Everlast Recovery in Riverside, CA

Table of Contents

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that arises after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. Unlike ordinary stress, which can be managed and eventually subsides, PTSD is a severe and persistent disorder that can disrupt a person’s daily life. The trauma leading to PTSD could be a one-time event, such as an accident or natural disaster, or a prolonged situation, like ongoing abuse or combat exposure.

How PTSD Develops

PTSD develops when the brain’s natural recovery process from trauma is disrupted—typically, the brain processes and stores traumatic events, eventually leading to a decrease in distress. However, in PTSD, this process is impeded, causing the trauma to remain fresh and vivid, leading to various psychological and physiological symptoms.

Symptoms of PTSD

PTSD symptoms can vary in intensity and can arise within a month of the traumatic event or even years later. They are generally categorized into four main types: intrusive memories, avoidance, negative changes in thinking and mood, and changes in physical and emotional reactions.

Intrusive Memories

Intrusive memories are unwanted, involuntary memories of the traumatic event that repeatedly invade the individual’s mind. These can be highly distressing and include:

  • Recurrent, Involuntary Distressing Memories: Persistent and intrusive thoughts about the traumatic event can make it difficult for individuals to concentrate on daily tasks.
  • Flashbacks: Experiencing the trauma as if it were happening again. During a flashback, an individual might feel like they are reliving the event, complete with sights, sounds, and smells.
  • Nightmares: Disturbing dreams related to the trauma that can cause significant distress and disrupt sleep patterns.
  • Severe Emotional Distress or Physical Reactions: When reminded of the trauma, the patient may experience emotional distress or physical symptoms like a racing heart or sweating.

Avoidance

Avoidance symptoms involve trying to avoid anything that might trigger memories of the traumatic event. This can include:

  • Efforts to Avoid Thinking or Talking About the Traumatic Event: Individuals might refuse to discuss the trauma or think about it, which can impede the healing process.
  • Avoiding Places, Activities, or People That Remind One of the Trauma: Avoiding locations, activities, or individuals associated with the traumatic event can help prevent distress.

Negative Changes in Thinking and Mood

PTSD can significantly change how a person thinks and feels about themselves and the world around them. These changes can include:

  • Negative Thoughts About Oneself, Others, or the World: Persistent negative beliefs or expectations, such as “I am bad,” “No one can be trusted,” or “The world is perilous.”
  • Feelings of Hopelessness About the Future: A pervasive despair and belief that the future holds no promise.
  • Memory Problems: Difficulty remembering essential aspects of the traumatic event, often due to the mind’s attempt to block out the painful memories.
  • Difficulty Maintaining Close Relationships: Struggles with feeling close to others or forming new relationships.
  • Feeling Detached from Family and Friends: A sense of emotional numbness or being cut off from loved ones.
  • Lack of Interest in Activities Once Enjoyed: A marked decline in participation or enjoyment in previously pleasurable activities.
  • Difficulty Experiencing Positive Emotions: Challenges in feeling happiness, love, or satisfaction.
  • Emotional Numbness: Feeling emotionally numb or detached from one’s own emotions and those of others.

Changes in Physical and Emotional Reactions

PTSD often causes heightened arousal symptoms, which can make individuals feel constantly on edge. These symptoms include:

  • Being Easily Startled or Frightened: A heightened startle response to unexpected stimuli.
  • Always Being on Guard for Danger: Hypervigilance or an exaggerated sense of being alert for potential threats.
  • Self-Destructive Behavior: Engaging in harmful activities, such as excessive drinking, drug use, or reckless driving.
  • Trouble Sleeping: Insomnia or difficulty staying asleep due to nightmares or anxiety.
  • Trouble Concentrating: Difficulty focusing on tasks or maintaining attention.
  • Irritability, Angry Outbursts, or Aggressive Behavior: Increased irritability or frequent bouts of anger and aggression.
  • Overwhelming Guilt or Shame: Feelings of guilt or shame related to the trauma or actions taken during the traumatic event.

Causes and Risk Factors

While anyone can develop PTSD at any age, several factors can increase the likelihood of developing the disorder. These factors include:

  • Severity and Duration of Trauma: Experiencing intense or prolonged trauma increases the risk.
  • Previous Trauma: Those who have experienced previous traumatic events, especially during childhood, are more susceptible.
  • Occupation: Jobs that expose individuals to traumatic events, such as military service, emergency responders, or humanitarian workers, carry a higher risk.
  • Mental Health History: Individuals with a history of mental health issues like anxiety or depression are more likely to develop PTSD.
  • Support System: A lack of strong social support can exacerbate PTSD symptoms.
  • Biological Factors: Genetic factors and neurobiological mechanisms can influence the development of PTSD.

Diagnosis of PTSD

PTSD is diagnosed based on specific criteria outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). To be diagnosed with PTSD, an individual must have experienced symptoms in the following areas for at least one month:

  • At least one intrusive symptom
  • At least one avoidance symptom
  • At least two symptoms of adverse changes in thinking and mood
  • At least two symptoms of changes in physical and emotional reactions
  • A mental health professional will conduct a comprehensive assessment to determine if these criteria are met and if the symptoms significantly impair daily functioning.

Impact of PTSD

The impact of PTSD extends beyond the individual to affect families, workplaces, and communities. Those who have PTSD may struggle with maintaining employment, nurturing relationships, and participating in social activities. Additionally, PTSD can co-occur with other conditions like depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and physical health problems, further complicating the individual’s life and treatment.

Impact on Families and Relationships

Strained Relationships: PTSD can make it difficult for individuals to connect with loved ones, leading to strained or broken relationships.

Family Stress: The stress of supporting a loved one with PTSD can take a toll on family members, leading to increased tension and conflict.

Parenting Challenges: PTSD can affect parenting abilities, making it harder to provide the emotional support and stability children need.

Impact on Work and Daily Life

Employment Issues: Difficulty concentrating, irritability, and frequent absences can lead to work-related problems or job loss.

Social Isolation: Avoidance behaviors and emotional numbness can lead to social withdrawal and isolation.

Daily Functioning: PTSD can interfere with daily activities, making it hard to maintain routines and responsibilities.

Co-Occurring Conditions

Depression and Anxiety: Many individuals with PTSD also suffer from depression and anxiety, which can exacerbate their symptoms and complicate treatment.

Substance Abuse: Some individuals may turn to alcohol or drugs to cope with PTSD symptoms, leading to substance abuse issues.

Physical Health Problems: Chronic stress from PTSD can contribute to physical health issues, such as cardiovascular problems, chronic pain, and gastrointestinal issues.

PTSD in Different Populations

PTSD affects diverse populations in various ways, with certain groups being at higher risk due to the nature of their experiences.

Veterans and Military Personnel

Combat exposure is a significant cause of PTSD among veterans, with many facing challenges in reintegrating into civilian life. Veterans may experience:

  • Combat Stress: Exposure to life-threatening situations, injuries, and loss of comrades.
  • Reintegration Issues: Difficulty adjusting to civilian life and finding employment.
  • Stigma and Isolation: Reluctance to seek help due to stigma leads to isolation and untreated symptoms.

First Responders

Police officers, firefighters, and paramedics are frequently exposed to traumatic events, putting them at higher risk for PTSD. First responders may face:

  • Cumulative Trauma: Repeated exposure to traumatic events over time.
  • Occupational Stress: High-stress environments and long working hours.
  • Mental Health Stigma: Concerns about job security and stigma around seeking mental health support.

Survivors of Abuse

Victims of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, mainly if the abuse occurred during childhood, are at increased risk of developing PTSD. Survivors may experience:

  • Chronic Trauma: Ongoing exposure to abuse can lead to complex PTSD, characterized by more severe and prolonged symptoms.
  • Trust Issues: Difficulty trusting others and forming healthy relationships.
  • Shame and Guilt: Overwhelming feelings of shame and guilt related to the abuse.

Disaster Survivors

Individuals who have experienced natural disasters, accidents, or terrorist attacks may develop PTSD due to the sudden and overwhelming nature of these events. Disaster survivors may face:

  • Acute Stress: Intense stress reactions immediately following the event.
  • Displacement: Loss of home and community, leading to feelings of instability and insecurity.
  • Survivor’s Guilt: Guilt over surviving when others did not.

Treatment for PTSD at Everlast Recovery

At Everlast Recovery in Riverside, CA, we understand the complexities of PTSD and offer a wide range of treatment options designed to address each individual’s unique needs. Our treatment modalities include:

1. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)

CBT is one of the most effective treatments for PTSD. It helps individuals identify and challenge distorted thoughts and beliefs related to the trauma and replace them with healthier, more balanced perspectives.

2. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

EMDR is a structured therapy that encourages the patient to focus on traumatic memories while simultaneously experiencing bilateral stimulation (typically eye movements). This process helps reduce the vividness of the traumatic memories and their emotional impact.

3. Prolonged Exposure Therapy

This therapy involves gradually exposing the individual to trauma-related memories and situations they have been avoiding. Over time, this helps reduce the power of these triggers and diminishes PTSD symptoms.

4. Medication Management

Medications can be an essential part of PTSD treatment. Antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, and other drugs can help manage symptoms and make it easier to engage in therapy.

5. Group Therapy

Group therapy provides a supportive environment where individuals can share their experiences and learn from others facing similar challenges. This can reduce feelings of isolation and promote healing.

6. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)

MBSR uses mindfulness meditation to help individuals become more aware of their thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations. This awareness can reduce stress and improve emotional regulation.

7. Holistic Therapies

Holistic approaches, such as yoga, art therapy, music therapy, and equine therapy, complement traditional treatments by promoting overall well-being and helping individuals reconnect with themselves.

8. Family Therapy

Family therapy involves educating family members about PTSD, improving communication, and strengthening the family support system. This is crucial for recovery, as a robust support system can significantly impact the individual’s healing journey.

The Everlast Recovery Approach

At Everlast Recovery, we prioritize personalized, compassionate care for each client. Our serene facility in Riverside, CA, offers a peaceful environment conducive to healing. Here’s why Everlast Recovery stands out:

Personalized Treatment Plans

We tailor our treatment plans to meet each individual’s unique needs and goals, ensuring the best possible outcomes.

Experienced and Compassionate Staff

Our team of licensed therapists, medical professionals, and support staff provide expert care with genuine compassion, creating a nurturing environment for recovery.

Comprehensive Care

We offer a full continuum of care, from initial assessment and detoxification to residential treatment and aftercare planning, supporting our clients at every stage of their recovery journey.

Community and Support

Our clients benefit from a strong sense of community and peer support during treatment and through our alum network.

Aftercare and Relapse Prevention

We provide robust aftercare programs and relapse prevention strategies to help clients maintain their progress and thrive after treatment.

Get Help Today

PTSD Awareness Month is a vital time to spread knowledge about PTSD and encourage those affected to seek help. Understanding PTSD, recognizing its symptoms, and knowing the available treatment options are crucial steps toward recovery.

At Everlast Recovery in Riverside, CA, we are committed to providing comprehensive, compassionate care to help individuals overcome PTSD and reclaim their lives. If you or a loved one is struggling with PTSD, don’t wait to seek help. At Everlast Recovery, we are here to support you on your path to healing. Contact us today to learn more about our PTSD treatment programs and start your journey toward recovery.

Together, we can overcome PTSD and build a brighter future.

FAQs

What is PTSD?

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that can develop after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. Symptoms can include intrusive memories, avoidance behaviors, adverse changes in thinking and mood, and heightened physical and emotional reactions.

What are the common symptoms of PTSD?

Common symptoms of PTSD include recurrent, involuntary distressing memories of the traumatic event, flashbacks, nightmares, severe emotional distress, avoidance of reminders of the trauma, negative thoughts and feelings, memory problems, difficulty maintaining relationships, feeling detached, and physical reactions like trouble sleeping and concentrating.

How is PTSD diagnosed?

PTSD is diagnosed by a mental health professional based on specific criteria outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). The diagnosis requires the presence of symptoms such as intrusive memories, avoidance, negative changes in thinking and mood, and changes in physical and emotional reactions for at least one month.

Who is at risk for developing PTSD?

Anyone can develop PTSD at any age. However, factors that increase the risk include experiencing severe or prolonged trauma, having a history of previous trauma, working in high-risk occupations like military service or emergency response, having a history of mental health issues, lacking social support, and having certain genetic and neurobiological factors.

What are the treatment options for PTSD at Everlast Recovery?

Everlast Recovery offers a range of treatment options for PTSD, including Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Prolonged Exposure Therapy, medication management, group therapy, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), holistic therapies like yoga and art therapy, and family therapy.

How effective are the treatments for PTSD?

Treatments for PTSD, such as Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), and Prolonged Exposure Therapy, are highly effective in reducing symptoms. The effectiveness can vary based on the individual, but many people experience significant improvement with appropriate treatment.

What should I do if I think I have PTSD?

If you think you have PTSD, it’s essential to seek help from a mental health professional. At Everlast Recovery, we offer comprehensive assessments to determine the best course of treatment. Contact us to schedule an appointment and take the first step toward recovery.

Can PTSD be cured?

While there is no definitive cure for PTSD, many people can manage their symptoms and lead fulfilling lives with proper treatment. Effective therapies and support can help reduce the severity of symptoms and improve overall well-being.

How long does treatment for PTSD take?

The duration of treatment for PTSD can vary depending on the individual and the severity of their symptoms. Some people may see significant improvement in a few months, while others may require longer-term treatment. We tailor treatment plans at Everlast Recovery to meet each client’s unique needs.

Is PTSD only caused by combat?

No, PTSD is not only caused by combat. While military service and combat exposure are common causes, PTSD can result from various traumatic events such as natural disasters, accidents, physical or sexual abuse, terrorist attacks, and any other event that threatens one’s life or safety.

How can I support a loved one with PTSD?

Supporting a loved one with PTSD involves being patient understanding, and encouraging them to seek professional help. Educate yourself about PTSD, listen without judgment, and provide a safe and supportive environment. Family therapy can also be beneficial in improving communication and strengthening support systems.

What makes Everlast Recovery’s PTSD treatment unique?

Everlast Recovery offers personalized treatment plans, a compassionate and experienced staff, a full continuum of care, and a serene environment conducive to healing. Our comprehensive approach combines evidence-based therapies with holistic practices to address each individual’s unique needs.

How can I contact Everlast Recovery for PTSD treatment?

You can contact Everlast Recovery by phone or by email. Our facility is located in Riverside, CA, and we are here to support you on your path to healing. Contact us today.

Resources

  1. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. (n.d.). National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd
  2. What is Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)? (n.d.). https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/ptsd/what-is-ptsd
  3. Symptoms of PTSD – PTSD UK. (n.d.). https://www.ptsduk.org/what-is-ptsd/symptoms-of-ptsd/
    Rubin, D. C., Boals, A., & Berntsen, D. (2008). Memory in posttraumatic stress disorder: Properties of voluntary and involuntary, traumatic and nontraumatic autobiographical memories in people with and without posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms. Journal of Experimental Psychology. General, 137(4), 591–614. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0013165
  4. Tull, M., PhD. (2023, November 16). Emotional avoidance in PTSD. Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/ptsd-and-emotional-avoidance-2797640
  5. Holland, K. (2023, November 20). Emotional Detachment: What it is and how to overcome it. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/emotional-detachment
  6. Field, B. (2023, November 3). Self-Sabotaging: Why does it happen. Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/why-people-self-sabotage-and-how-to-stop-it-5207635
  7. Pitman, R. K., Rasmusson, A. M., Koenen, K. C., Shin, L. M., Orr, S. P., Gilbertson, M. W., Milad, M. R., & Liberzon, I. (2012). Biological studies of post-traumatic stress disorder. Nature Reviews. Neuroscience, 13(11), 769–787. https://doi.org/10.1038/nrn3339
  8. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. (n.d.). DSM Library. https://dsm.psychiatryonline.org/doi/book/10.1176/appi.books.9780890425596
  9. Sareen, J. (2014). Posttraumatic stress disorder in Adults: impact, comorbidity, risk factors, and treatment. ˜the œCanadian Journal of Psychiatry/Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 59(9), 460–467. https://doi.org/10.1177/070674371405900902
  10. VA.gov | Veterans Affairs. (n.d.). https://www.ptsd.va.gov/family/effect_families.asp
  11. Flanagan, J. C., Korte, K. J., Killeen, T. K., & Back, S. E. (2016). Concurrent treatment of substance use and PTSD. Current Psycchiatry Reports/Current Psychiatry Reports, 18(8). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11920-016-0709-y
  12. VA.gov | Veterans Affairs. (n.d.). https://www.ptsd.va.gov/understand/common/common_veterans.asp
  13. Marmar, C. R., McCASLIN, S. E., Metzler, T. J., Best, S., Weiss, D. S., Fagan, J., Liberman, A., Pole, N., Otte, C., Yehuda, R., Mohr, D., & Neylan, T. (2006). Predictors of posttraumatic stress in police and other first responders. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1071(1), 1–18. https://doi.org/10.1196/annals.1364.001
  14. Arnberg, F. K., Johannesson, K. B., & Michel, P. (2013). Prevalence and duration of PTSD in survivors 6 years after a natural disaster. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 27(3), 347–352. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.janxdis.2013.03.011

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