My area of specialization as a therapist is treating those with PTSD, or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
PTSD is a disorder that can develop after a trauma. Trauma, like child abuse, sexual assault, serious accidents, exposure to trauma during your job (military, first responders) are distressing events that lead to strong physical or emotional reactions.
Reactions can include sadness, confusion, anxiety, increased physical arousal, and more. This is both normal and expected following trauma. Most times, these reactions will naturally decrease over time. Other times, these reactions stick around and intensify. This is often where a “trauma reaction” turns to “PTSD.” When these reactions negatively impact your life in such a way that the stress overrides your ability to cope, it’s called a “disorder.” I like to clarify this because I know the word “disorder” can make folks cringe.
Diagnostically, PTSD is unique in how it manifests in the brain and body. There are four “clusters” of symptoms that are consistent across those with PTSD.
First, the past is showing up in the present. Painful, unwanted memories of the trauma, nightmares related to the traumatic events, flashbacks, even psychological or physiological triggers can keep PTSD sufferers from recovery.
Secondly, those with PTSD naturally want to avoid reminders of the trauma and want to avoid thoughts/feelings about the events. While this makes sense conceptually, over time this avoidance only serves to intensify and strengthen PTSD.
Thirdly, those with PTSD often have negative changes to their mood, thoughts, and emotions. And finally, PTSD often causes increased physical arousal resulting in trouble sleeping, trouble concentrating, more irritability/anger, and feeling “on guard” even when there is no real need to be.
WHAT DO PTSD SYMPTOMS LOOK LIKE?
I think of PTSD as a set of “false alarms” that keep going off. Your brain and body react as if there is a current threat. This continues to happen whether a threat is present or not. And it’s both terrifying and exhausting. We keep responding because (of course) the risk of not responding feels too dangerous. It keeps this unhealthy cycle going. This perpetuates the symptoms above, worsening the PTSD over time, and taking over more and more of your life.
My clients typically will report the manifestation of PTSD when they say things like “I can’t get these images out of my head. I keep having nightmares. I’m triggered all the time. I can’t keep busy enough to keep these thoughts out of my mind. I’m always pissed off. I can’t focus. I can’t sleep. I’m always jumpy. I can’t trust anyone, and I am never safe. My self-esteem is terrible. I have no power or control over my life. I’m a failure, and it’s my fault. I can’t let my guard down. Emotions are bad, and if I talk about them, it’ll get worse. I can’t relax.”
HOW DOES PTSD TREATMENT HELP?
The thing I want to emphasize the most is: PTSD is a treatable condition. It is a collection of current symptoms based on a past event, but it is treatable.
Working with a PTSD therapist can interrupt the false alarms created by PTSD. There are effective treatments to decrease these symptoms down and keep them down. More than this, it means that you get to have control over your life again. How would your life be different if you didn’t have to fight these symptoms? If you didn’t have to feel weighed down from past trauma?
Often after PTSD treatment folks will report that they are finally able to relax. They no longer feel guilty. They feel better about themselves overall, including regaining a renewed sense of control over their lives. They no longer have to battle distressing memories or nightmares, while experiencing improved sleep. Relationships improve, they feel confident and no longer have to run from reminders. They no longer have to live in shame.
PTSD is heavy. However, it does not have to be a life sentence. Understanding PTSD can help you grasp what is going on, and ultimately allow you to take steps to get rid of PTSD. Know that PTSD is a treatable condition, and that we constantly strive to offer you the best and most effective ways to treat it.
You are not alone.
PTSD Treatment Options
COGNITIVE PROCESSING THERAPY (CPT)
CPT is a one-on-one PTSD treatment. A course of CPT lasts 12 weeks, 60 minutes each session. This is a therapy that has been widely researched and is considered a front-line treatment for PTSD due to its effectiveness. During a course of CPT, you will examine the impact your trauma history has had on your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. You will learn to evaluate places in your thinking where you've gotten stuck, and in turn, be able to shift how you feel and behave. CPT can be particularly helpful if you struggle a lot with self-blame, shame, and guilt.
PROLONGED EXPOSURE THERAPY (PE)
PE is a one-on-one treatment for PTSD. A course of PE lasts 10 weeks, 90 minutes each session. It has been widely researched and it is a front-line treatment for PTSD. During a course of PE, you will learn how to gradually approach traumatic memories as well as things in your life you may be avoiding. Approaching, instead of avoiding, will greatly reduce your PTSD-related symptoms and improve your day-to-day living. PE may be a good fit if you spend a lot of time avoiding people, places, things, or dealing with painful memories. It's also helpful if you spend a lot of time being on high-alert, hyper-vigilant, or feeling fearful in situations where you once felt comfortable.
COGNITIVE BEHAVIORAL THERAPY FOR DEPRESSION (CBT-D):
Do you know that a history of trauma leads more often to depression than PTSD? It’s true. If depression is primarily how you’re presently affected by trauma, CBT-D can be helpful. CBT-D is a one-on-one treatment for depression. We will meet for anywhere between 5-20 sessions. During a course of CBT-D, you will examine thought patterns. Doing so will help you to identify and correct problematic thoughts and develop positive feelings and behaviors.
BEGIN PTSD TREATMENT IN OHIO OR KENTUCKY
Here's the bad news: PTSD sucks. The good news: PTSD is a highly treatable condition.
If you're at a point where you are considering therapy, it's probably safe to bet you're struggling to manage day-to-day. We're also willing to bet that you'd like to know something is available to help you and give you some relief. The PTSD treatments offered at Thrive are evidence-based and shown to be effective. You can access Thrive's services using online therapy in Ohio or online therapy in Kentucky. Please know that help is available. To get started, use the steps below.
- Book a free 15-minute consultation call.
- Meet with a Thrive therapist to see if we’re a good fit for therapy.
- Reduce your PTSD symptoms and live in the present once again