Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) Treatment

Absolute Awakenings Treatment Center offers individualized care for those suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Read on to learn more about PTSD and our treatment programs.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is characterized by an ongoing difficulty in recovering from past trauma. It is one of five anxiety disorder types and it affects approximately 3.6 percent of all adults in the United States. Common among veterans, survivors of domestic abuse, and people who’ve dealt with traumatic injuries, post-traumatic stress disorder causes people to avoid situations, places, environments, and other triggers that bring back memories of past traumatic events.

PTSD sufferers often deal with painful flashbacks, disturbing nightmares, and sudden mood changes. Lacking the right tools for managing their symptoms and for alleviating their mental and emotional angst, many people with PTSD use drugs or alcohol to self-treat. As such, PTSD is a common co-occurring disorder among those who suffer from drug or alcohol addiction. At Absolute Awakenings, our dual diagnosis program treats both addiction and PTSD at once. Dual diagnosis treatment on our campus both minimizes the risk of relapse in addiction recovery and helps people enjoy balanced, stable, and happy lives. 

Risk Factors for PTSD

Diagnosis for PTSD requires that a person has had either a direct traumatic experience or a secondhand traumatic experience involving a loved one. Common risk factors for PTSD include:

  • Childhood trauma
  • Being active duty in the military during wartime
  • Domestic assault
  • Threats of death or threats of physical harm
  • Severe injury
  • Repeatedly hearing about the severe injury of others (especially that of a loved one)
  • Experiencing the sudden death of a close friend or relative

People who’ve been involved in car accidents often deal with PTSD, just as do those who’ve been involved in violent, toxic relationships. Any event or experience that triggers feelings of mortal fear or terror can result in lingering trauma. Having low levels of distress tolerance or immediate family members with PTSD or other anxiety disorders are also considered risk factors. For some people, PTSD lasts just several months or several years. For others, PTSD can evolve into a chronic, lifelong condition.

Signs and Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Common symptoms of PTSD include:

  • Recurring, intrusive, and stressful memories of past events
  • A tendency to avoid people or things that trigger reminders of traumatic events (avoidance)
  • Difficulty recalling the details of a past trauma
  • Overwhelming feelings of guilt
  • Periods of emotional numbness
  • Hypervigilance

People with PTSD may be intensely startled by bright lights, loud sounds, or other sudden, external stimuli. They can also experience periods of depression or have angry or aggressive outbursts with little or no provocation.

How Is PTSD Diagnosed?

As with all suspected mental health disorders, diagnosis starts with a complete medical exam and psychological evaluation. Various forms of diagnostic testing are used to rule out possible medical issues that may be the source of PTSD symptoms. During the psychological assessment, people are asked questions about their family’s medical history, past traumas, and more. To prevent misdiagnosis and unnecessary treatment, several core PTSD symptoms must be identified. Moreover, these core symptoms must last for at least one full month, and one must be avoidance. 

Treatment for PTSD

PTSD is commonly treated with a combination of medication and trauma-focused psychotherapy. The medications used in PTSD treatment are not known to be habit-forming and are safe for ongoing use in the long-term management of this illness as needed. In psychotherapy, patients learn how to increase their distress tolerance, discover effective self-soothing techniques, and develop healthier coping skills among other things.

Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy is commonly referred to as “talk therapy” and includes options such as motivational interviewing (MI), exposure therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT). CBT is largely focused on cognitive restructuring and helping patients identify and change negative thought patterns. DBT is a form of CBT that uses many of the same techniques and provides many of the same benefits. However, DBT also encourages patients to acknowledge and validate the trauma that has led to their painful emotions. 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

In CBT, patients use multiple techniques to identify, track, and understand negative thoughts. They are then encouraged to consciously alter or redirect this manner of thinking as a means of improving their circumstances and moods. CBT additionally encourages patients to acknowledge the connection between negative thinking and uncomfortable emotions.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

DBT for PTSD focuses on self-soothing, distraction techniques, and strategies for improving personal circumstances. In DBT, people learn how to actively listen to their bodies, and implement proactive, preventative strategies for mitigating emotional discomfort.

Medication

Medications including anti-anxiety medications, mood stabilizers, and anti-depressant medications are commonly included in PTSD treatment. Whether or not one or more medications will be included in the long-term management plan for this illness depend upon the nature and severity of a person’s symptoms, the level of trauma experienced, and the likelihood of PTSD being or becoming a chronic issue. Medications that are commonly used for the treatment of PTSD include:

  • Zoloft
  • Paxil
  • Prozac
  • Effexor

Treating PTSD at Absolute Awakenings

At Absolute Awakenings, we know just how painful and disruptive untreated PTSD can be. People who live with this disorder often have a hard time functioning consistently and at normal levels. PTSD can make it difficult to form and maintain strong, meaningful relationships, stay on top of personal responsibilities, and enjoy life overall. Our dual diagnosis program is designed to give each person the customized and multi-pronged treatment plan they need and deserve. With needs-specific therapies and medical interventions, our clients have the best chance of success in long-term addiction recovery, and the ability to enjoy ongoing mood balance and lasting mental health.

Contact Us Today to Get Started

Living with untreated PTSD is challenging, but living with PTSD as a co-occurring disorder can be far harder. Many forms of substance abuse actually exacerbate the symptoms of this issue and cause additional, stress-inducing problems. If you’re tired of living with constant anxiety and mental distress, we can help. Call us today to get started.

Clinically Reviewed By: Candace Kotkin De Carvalho

Passionate about providing individualized treatment for clients of all backgrounds, Candace brings nearly a decade of hands-on experience to her role as the Clinical Director, having recently led the Alternative Recovery and Wellness program at Advanced Health & Education in Eatontown. A Certified Clinical Trauma Professional, a Licensed Clinical Alcohol and Drug Counselor, a Licensed Social Worker, a Certified Clinical Supervisor, and a Registered Yoga Teacher, Candace brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the organization.

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