PTSD: Facts, Signs and Treatment Options

By:  Traci Patterson, CH, CI – Owner, Advanced Pathways Hypnosis

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), once called shell shock or battle fatigue syndrome, is a serious condition that can develop after a person has experienced or witnessed a traumatic or terrifying event in which serious physical harm occurred or was threatened. PTSD is a lasting consequence of traumatic ordeals that cause intense fear, helplessness, or horror, such as a sexual or physical assault, the unexpected death of a loved one, an accident, war, or natural disaster. Families of victims can also develop PTSD, as can emergency personnel and rescue workers.

Sometimes these symptoms don’t surface for months or years after the event or returning from deployment. They may also come and go. If these problems won’t go away or are getting worse—or you feel like they are disrupting your daily life—you may have PTSD.

You feel on edge. Nightmares keep coming back. Sudden noises make you jump. You’re staying at home more and more, and isolating yourself from the outside world.  Could you have PTSD?

If you have experienced severe trauma or a life-threatening event, you may develop symptoms of posttraumatic stress, commonly known as posttraumatic stress disorder, PTSD, shell shock, or combat stress. Maybe you felt like your life or the lives of others were in danger, or that you had no control over what was happening. You may have witnessed people being injured or dying, or you may have been physically harmed yourself.

Some of the most common symptoms of PTSD include recurring memories or nightmares of the event(s), sleeplessness, loss of interest, or feeling numb, anger, and irritability, but there are many ways PTSD can impact your everyday life.

Some factors can increase the likelihood of a traumatic event leading to PTSD, such as:

  • The intensity of the trauma
  • Being hurt or losing a loved one
  • Being physically close to the traumatic event
  • Feeling you were not in control
  • Having a lack of support after the event

Most people who experience a traumatic event will have reactions that may include shock, anger, nervousness, fear, and even guilt. These reactions are common; and for most people, they go away over time. For a person with PTSD, however, these feelings continue and even increase, becoming so strong that they keep the person from living a normal life. People with PTSD have symptoms for longer than one month and cannot function as well as before the event occurred.

What Are the Symptoms of PTSD?

Symptoms of PTSD most often begin within three months of the event. In some cases, however, they do not begin until years later. The severity and duration of the illness vary. Some people recover within six months, while others suffer much longer.

Symptoms of PTSD often are grouped into three main categories, including:

  • Reliving: People with PTSD repeatedly relive the ordeal through thoughts and memories of the trauma. These may include flashbacks, hallucinations, and nightmares. They also may feel great distress when certain things remind them of the trauma, such as the anniversary date of the event.
  • Avoiding: The person may avoid people, places, thoughts, or situations that may remind him or her of the trauma. This can lead to feelings of detachment and isolation from family and friends, as well as a loss of interest in activities that the person once enjoyed.
  • Increased Emotions: These include excessive emotions; problems relating to others, including feeling or showing affection; difficulty falling or staying asleep; irritability; outbursts of anger; difficulty concentrating; and being “jumpy” or easily startled. The person may also suffer physical symptoms, such as increased blood pressure and heart rate, rapid breathing, muscle tension, nausea, and diarrhea.

Young children with PTSD may suffer from delayed development in areas such as toilet training, motor skills, and language.

Who Gets PTSD?

Everyone reacts to traumatic events differently. Each person is unique in his or her ability to manage fear and stress and to cope with the threat posed by a traumatic event or situation. For that reason, not everyone who experiences or witnesses a trauma will develop PTSD. Further, the type of help and support a person receives from friends, family members and professionals following the trauma may influence the development of PTSD or the severity of symptoms.

PTSD was first brought to the attention of the medical community by war veterans, hence the names shell shock and battle fatigue syndrome. However, PTSD can occur in anyone who has experienced a traumatic event. People who have been abused as children or who have been repeatedly exposed to life-threatening situations are at greater risk for developing PTSD. Victims of trauma related to physical and sexual assault face the greatest risk for PTSD.  Chronic pain patients that have been through numerous procedures, surgeries and have dealt with immense pain for years face the risk for developing PTSD.

What are the signs of PTSD?

A wide variety of symptoms may be signs you are experiencing PTSD:

  • Feeling upset by things that remind you of what happened
  • Having nightmares, vivid memories, or flashbacks of the event that make you feel like it’s happening all over again
  • Feeling emotionally cut off from others
  • Feeling numb or losing interest in things you used to care about
  • Becoming depressed
  • Thinking that you are always in danger
  • Feeling anxious, jittery, or irritated
  • Experiencing a sense of panic that something bad is about to happen
  • Having difficulty sleeping
  • Having trouble keeping your mind on one thing
  • Having a hard time relating to and getting along with your spouse, family, or friends

It’s not just the symptoms of PTSD but also how you may react to them that can disrupt your life. You may:

  • Frequently avoid places or things that remind you of what happened
  • Consistent drinking or use of drugs to numb your feelings
  • Consider harming yourself or others
  • Start working all the time to occupy your mind
  • Pull away from other people and become isolated

What is the treatment for PTSD?

If you have PTSD, it doesn’t mean you just have to live with it. In recent years, researchers from around the world have dramatically increased our understanding of what causes PTSD and how to treat it.

Traditional medicine will state there are two types of treatment that have been shown to be effective for treating PTSD: counseling and medication. Professional counseling can help you understand your thoughts and discover ways to cope with your feelings. Medications, called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, are used to help you feel less worried or sad.

Unfortunately, many people that undergo these two types of treatment are still left with signs and symptoms of PTSD.

I recently read an article about some new research where they were utilizing MRT (Magnet Resonance Therapy) to help treat PTSD.  Yes, it is a drug-free and non-invasive treatment option, but at the same time every treatment it exposing the patient to radiation.  The treatment protocol is daily 30 minutes treatment for up to two months. What a tradeoff, radiation exposure for possible relief of PTSD.

The other option is also a drug-free, non-invasive treatment protocol that involves clinical hypnosis with a multi-therapeutic approach.  This combination works with the neuroplasticity of the brain, the physiology of the body and mixes that with hypnosis to give patients a scientifically designed program to meet their personal needs.  Our approach empowers the patient to take charge of their health, life, to open up new pathways and create a more succinct, healthy and successful future.

You may need to work with your doctor or counselor and try different types of treatment before finding the one that’s best for dealing with your PTSD symptoms.

What can I do if I think I have PTSD?

In addition to getting treatment, you can adjust your lifestyle to help relieve PTSD symptoms. For example, talking with other Veterans or individuals who have experienced trauma can help you connect with and trust others, exercising can help reduce physical tension, and volunteering can help you reconnect with your community. You also can let your friends and family know when certain places or activities make you uncomfortable.

Your close friends and family may be the first to notice that you’re having a tough time. Turn to them when you are ready to talk. It can be helpful to share what you’re experiencing, and they may be able to provide support and help you find treatment that is right for you.

Take the Next Step – Connect:

Whether you just returned from a deployment, you’ve been home for 40 years, or you’re dealing with PTSD from chronic pain – it’s never too late to get professional treatment or support for PTSD. Receiving counseling or treatment as soon as possible can keep your symptoms from getting worse.

You can also consider connecting with:

  • Your family doctor: Ask if your doctor has experience treating PTSD or can refer you to someone who does
  • A mental health professional, such as a therapist
  • Your local VA Medical Center or Vet Center: VA specializes in the care and treatment of Veterans
  • A spiritual or religious advisor
  • Advanced Pathways Hypnosis

If you or a loved one is living with PTSD and traditional treatments have not helped please consider contacting Advanced Pathways Hypnosis.  We offer a drug-free, non-invasive treatment option that is scientifically designed.  Advanced Pathways utilizes a multi-therapeutic approach based on breakthrough research from leading academic institutions to ensure the best result for our patients.

Contact us today at (714) 717-6633 for a FREE confidential telephone consultation, or contact us via email at: Info@AdvancedPathways.com.

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Chronic Pain Patients and PTSD

What is PTSD and how does it affect chronic pain patients?

Prior to being treated for my CRPS (Complex Regional Pain Syndrome) in Tennessee, I was unaware that I had PTSD.  That was the furthest thing from my mind and I would have never thought of myself as having PTSD.  But in 2013 when I was diagnosed with PTSD I had been through so many years of chronic pain and everything that came with it that the diagnosis made sense.

I worked with something called, ‘Issue Solution Technique’, to get through my PTSD in addition to other modalities while working to get my CRPS into remission.  I was able to connect the dots to figure out how PTSD became a part of my diagnosis.  This included years of intense pain that was unmanageable due to CRPS, listening to doctor and/or surgeons tell me that it was the worse case of CRPS ever, having doctors give up or not know what else to do, several procedures where anesthesia didn’t work so I was able to feel everything that was happening, other treatments that were so painful that I was left shaking and on the verge of going into shock, etc… In combination this is enough… more than enough to cause PTSD.  In order for me to get past the PTSD I had to let go of the stuff that had happened while going through my journey with CRPS, I had to allow myself to gain perspective, to forgive those that needed forgiveness and to realize that I was worthy.  Then and only then was I able to move on because we all know that chronic pain and CRPS is all encompassing.

PTSD, Post-traumatic stress disorder is a DSM V diagnosis in the mental health world. You have probably heard of it in relationship to war veterans returning home. PTSD is an anxiety disorder that causes the brain to fire in irrational and obsessive patterns after someone has gone through an extreme emotional trauma that involves a threat to his/her life or perceived threat of danger. Chronic pain, whether it is you or someone who is close to you sends off alarms into your central nervous system bringing in hyper-arousal and says, “threat is on board.” In our brain, the very threat of chronic pain memories (i.e. pain, treatments, negative statements by doctors and/or surgeons, traumatic activities associated with this time, etc…) will create the war like environment for PTSD.

Thus what can you do to cope with this threat in healthy ways in order to respond to chronic pain to allow you to manage PTSD symptoms?

First, give yourself a break and acknowledge the truth. Chronic pain is scary and creates rivers and avenues of fear within. Don’t try not to be afraid. Being brave is not the same as not being afraid. Being brave means that you know and understand the risks involved and respond to each risk with positive action, regardless of your level of fear.

Second, get enough rest. (Yes, this is difficult with chronic pain, but try.)  PTSD symptoms are intrusive showing up in nightmares, disruptive sleep, and early morning dread. Discover which tools are going to help you rest. If you need a night -light because the dark is all of sudden too scary buy a soft light positive action night- light. One that makes your face smile when you see its glow in your dark room. Experiment with some night- time organic herbal teas, such as chamomile to see if tea will assist you to sleep. Melatonin can be tried as well. (Check with your physician if you are on a sleep medication.)  If you are in treatment and it is too uncomfortable to sleep lying down, then sleep in a recliner chair or propped up with a bouquet of pillows. Rest is your friend. When you worry, the very biology of worry breaks down your cells.

Third, have an assortment of music at your fingertips. One day you might really want to hear angry heavy metal music blaring through your house because that might be reflecting your inner state and pleasant massage music is just too annoying when you are agitate. Let music reflect outwardly you inner state.  Yet, another day you may decide you want a nice peaceful assortment for calm and relaxation.

Fourth, try finding someone that has a background in PTSD to help you.  There are techniques available such as the one that was available to me, ‘Issue Solution Technique’ (that involves tapping, similar to EFT).  These techniques can help guide you through the process quickly and easily.

Other things that you can do to manage your PTSD symptoms are journaling your feelings, aromatherapy, funny movies, and good friends. Go to support groups, seek counsel from a professional who works with chronic pain patients and PTSD, and read to educate and inform yourself on your condition. It is important that you come to chronic pain well prepared and ready. Knowledge is power. Do not be afraid to learn about just exactly what is going on with you. Of course, it will be scary but the knowledge will help you make the best-informed decisions about your treatment and your life style.

Last, remember never to give up. You are priceless and valuable. Nothing you did caused this to happen to you.   Take comfort, manage your symptoms and keep the hope.

If you would like more information on treating PTSD or chronic pain please contact Advanced Pathways Hypnosis for a free consultation.

Info@AdvancedPathways.com   |  www.AdvancedPathways.com   |   714.717.6633