Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a condition that affects countless people. The symptoms are quite difficult to manage and persist for years if left untreated. It can occur from any number of potential traumas such as physical abuse, sexual assault, car accidents, medical emergencies, natural disasters, or involvement in criminal events such as robberies or muggings to name just a few.

Causes of PTSD

PTSD can result when a person is exposed to death or threatened physical injury either through direct exposure, witnessing or through indirect exposure. If a number of these symptoms are persisting beyond one month following the traumatic event, it is likely to be PTSD.

Most people will experience at least one intrusive symptom:

  • Unwanted upsetting memories
  • Nightmares
  • Flashbacks
  • Emotional distress after exposure to traumatic reminders
  • Physical reactivity after exposure to traumatic reminders

Most people also experience avoidant symptoms. This involves avoidance of trauma-related stimuli after the trauma:

  • Trauma-related thoughts or feelings
  • Trauma-related external reminders

Additionally, most people with PTSD will experience negative alterations in thinking and mood such as:

  • Inability to recall key features of the trauma
  • Overly negative thoughts and assumptions about oneself or the world
  • Exaggerated blame of self or others for causing the trauma
  • Negative affect
  • Decreased interest in activities
  • Feeling isolated
  • Difficulty experiencing positive affect

Lastly, people with PTSD usually have some alterations in arousal and reactivity that can include:

  • Irritability or aggression
  • Risky or destructive behavior
  • Hypervigilance
  • Heightened startle reaction
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty sleeping

Recent research on the treatment of PTSD has identified Eye Movement Desensitization and Retraining (EMDR) to be one of the fastest and more effective forms of treatment for PTSD, essentially helping people integrate the traumatic event in a way that allows the brain to process through and move past what happened.

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