Tuesday, May 1, 2012

PTSD Prevention

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a normal response by normal people to an abnormal event. The severity of the exposure to the event represents a threat to their physical or psychological well-being. As such, the traumatic event overwhelms normal coping responses and challenges their ability to cope. The result is traumatic stress.
These types of events include rape or other types of assault, childhood sexual or physical abuse, family violence, accidents and other life threatening situations. Common responses are anxiety about a possible recurrence, confusion, difficulty in concentration, memory problems; temporary mood swings, general changes in temperament and irritability; flashbacks or reliving the event emotionally; sleep problems and/or nightmares; a change of appetite; emotional distress caused by events that remind you of the traumatic event; a desire to avoid anything that might remind you of the traumatic event; diminished interest in significant activities (work, social, or family); feeling depressed, detached, or estranged from others; shortness of temper, angry feelings, or a lack of patience with yourself or others; increased health problems; increased use of alcohol or drugs; depression, decreased energy, tearfulness, and loss of pleasure.
If several of these symptoms are present, it is advisable to seek professional help. Unresolved trauma can have a tragic impact on the life and choices made by the individual exposed to these types of events. For many, the painful feelings can continue for a long time despite attempts to cope. Others seem to manage well for a time and then find themselves distressed months or years later.
Early intervention, ideally during the first three months, is key to returning to a normal life that avoids PTSD. Treatment will be shorter and save the individual the pain of symptoms and choices that can have a negative affect on their life. While it is preferable to get professional help within the first three months, those who find themselves struggling with stress due to a traumatic event can find help through internationally recognized therapies for PTSD, such as EMDR.
As with all mental health issues, finding a qualified therapist who specializes in this particular disorder is important. Finding networks or specific organizations or practices that have providers trained in PTSD therapies is ideal. It is usually best to choose a therapist who is licensed by the regulatory board in your state. Licensing typically ensures that a therapist has obtained a graduate degree and one or more years of post-licensure training and supervision. It also gives recourse to the regulatory board should a question of poor treatment or ethical misconduct arise.

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