Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental health issue that some people develop after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. After being involved in traumatic events themselves or witnessing traumatic events, it is common for most people to experience symptoms like upsetting memories, bad memories, and trouble sleeping (ptsd.va.gov). However, if the symptoms continue longer than a month or several months, a diagnosis of PTSD is possible and you would want to meet with a mental health provider for accurate assessment and diagnosis.
Anyone can develop PTSD, but only about 7-8% of the U.S. population will actually develop PTSD. The occurrence of PTSD is not specific to a profession or person, but is more prevalent within certain contexts vs others. For instance, the prevalence rates for PTSD among rescue and recovery personnel, in general, ranges from 5%-32%, with rates as high as as 21% for firefighters alone (Perrin, DiGrande, Wheeler, Thorpe, Farfel, & Brackbill, 2007).
Symptoms of PTSD can significantly impact ones work performance, quality of life, and overall functioning. However, treatment is available to help those suffering get back to a better quality of life and functioning. Two trauma-focused therapies, in particular, have received the most scientific support (evidence) for significantly treating PTSD. The trauma-focused therapies are Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) & Prolonged Exposure (PE).
Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT)
According to the National Center for PTSD, CPT teaches the individual how to change upsetting thoughts that have developed, or have been confirmed, through the trauma experience that might be keeping the individual stuck. Changing the thoughts will help the individual then change how they feel. While in therapy, the individual can expect to learn new ways to think about the trauma, self, and the world around them, while also exploring facts that support or do not support their thoughts. Treatment employing CPT typically consists of 12 weekly sessions lasting 60-90 minutes. Session frequency and length can vary and can be ajusted between client and therapist. Session time is usually spent targeting thoughts leading to shame, guilt, anger, and sadness with sessions also geared towards working through areas of the individual's life that might have been affected including safety, trust, control, self-esteem, and intimacy. Click here for more information about CPT.
According to the National Center for PTSD, PE teaches individuals to gradually confront trauma-related memories, their feelings, and situations they've avoided since their trauma. Gradually confronting these issues that are difficult for the individual will, in turn, decrease symptoms of PTSD. While in therapy, the individual can expect to learn new ways to face their fears, talk through the details of their trauma, and come face to face with safe situations they have been avoiding. Individuals who are able to decrease their fears and rengage in things they used to enjoy usually feel more in control of their life and a better quality of life. Treatment employing PE typically consists of 8-15 weekly sessions lasting 60-90 minutes. Session frequency and length can vary and can be ajusted between client and therapist. Session time is usually spent confronting the details of the trauma and targeting fear, anger, and sadness, which helps decrease unwanted memories during other times. Click here for more information about PE.
If you, or someone you know, are experiencing thoughts of suicide or suspect PTSD, anxiety, depression, or any other mental health issue, please contact Dr. Ebony Butler @ 512-974-5482 or 601-559-7886 or Dr. Marc Kruse @ 512-974-0225 for more assistance. Peer Support Services are also available for your support!