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  • Writer's pictureDr. Irit Goldman

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

If you went through a traumatic event and are having a hard time to go back to your normal life style prior to the event and are having a hard time to reconnect to the important people in your life in a manner you are used to, there is a strong possibility that you suffer from post traumatic stress disorder (PSTD).

What is PTSD? PTSD is a disorder that may develop after someone goes through a traumatic event that was unpredictable. It can be an accident, natural disaster, unexpected death of a loved one, childhood abuse, medical procedure, domestic abuse, rape and the list goes on. The traumatic event leaves you feeling helpless. You may feel that your safety is threatened. Any overwhelming life experience can trigger PSTD. Some time PSTD develops not only by being the direct victim, but even for someone who witnessed it (such as emergency workers, law enforcement officers, etc.).

PTSD can happen to NORMAL people experiencing/witnessing ABNORMAL events. The trauma leading to PTSD is usually so overwhelming and frightening that it would upset anyone. When your sense of security and safety is compromised, it is NORMAL to feel crazy, numb or disconnected.

After trauma the body and mind are in shock. Some have difficulty to process it and cope which results in PTSD. In PTSD situations, people remain in psychological shock. Your memory of what happened to you and your feelings about it are disconnected. In order to resume your normal life again, it is important to face and feel your memories and emotions in a safe way.

Following trauma, it is very common to have dreams, feel numb and fearful. But for most people it’s short lived and they feel better every day. However, for people that develop PTSD, those feelings intensify and get worse over days, week, months or even years. While everyone experiences PTSD differently, there are three main types of symptoms:

1.Re-experiencing the traumatic event •Intrusive, upsetting memories of the event •Flashbacks (acting or feeling like the event is happening again) •Nightmares either of the event or of other frightening again) •Feelings of intense distress when reminded of the trauma •Intense physical reactions to reminders of the event (e.g. pounding heart, rapid breathing, nausea, muscle tension, sweating)

2.PTSD symptoms of avoidance and emotional numbing •Avoiding activities, places, thoughts, or feelings that remind you of the trauma •Inability to remember important aspects of the trauma •Loss of interest in activities and life in general •Feeling detached from others and emotionally numb •Sense of a limited future (you don’t expect to live a normal life span, get married, have a career)

3.PTSD symptoms of increased arousal •Difficulty falling or staying asleep •Irritability or outbursts of anger •Difficulty concentrating •Hyper-vigilance (on constant “red alert’) •Feeling jumpy and easily started

Other common symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder •Anger and irritability •Guilt, shame, or self-blame •Substance abuse •Depression and hopelessness •Suicidal thoughts and feelings •Feeling alienated and alone •Feelings of mistrust and betrayal •Headaches, stomach problems, chest pain

Getting help for PTSD If you suspect that you may be suffering from PTSD, it’s important to seek help – right away. The best way to overcome PTSD is with support of an experienced therapist or a doctor.

It is only natural that you want to avoid painful memories and feelings, but if you’ll try to push it away, it will only get worse over time. The process is much easier with the help of a support group or trained clinician. You can’t escape your emotions completely. They will surface whenever you let your guard down. Avoidance will eventually harm your relationships and ability to function and the quality of your life.

Medication can often be used. Most common are antidepressants (SSRI’s) which help to reduce physical symptoms. For medication evaluations, please consult your physician.

I offer state of the art treatment for PTSD, with Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) technique. I also give unconditional support and compassion. I also teach people with PTSD practical approaches to cope with symptoms that can be very intense and disturbing. I provide tools to help people to manage their anger and anxiety, improve their communication skills and how to use relaxation techniques. I use cognitive behavioral therapy to accomplish the above.

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