The acronym “PTSD” is a somewhat recent development in the grand scheme of human societal progression. The term didn’t even exist 60+ years ago, nor did a larger awareness about mental health. The experience of trauma was quite misunderstood (as was the larger picture of mental health) back in the day, but as technology and mental health awareness has improved over the past decades, we have started to not only understand more about PTSD, but also understanding the best ways to implement PTSD treatment for those suffering from it.
If you or a loved one has experienced a traumatic event and are experiencing the symptoms of PTSD, you are not alone, both in your experience and your quest to get better. At Wendy Iglehart Therapy, we offer a variety of counseling services, both in person and online, and our counselors have plenty of experience working with those who are suffering from PTSD, as well as implementing effective PTSD treatment. Keep reading to learn a little bit more about what PTSD is, what PTSD treatment is, and how it may be able to help you or your loved one.
What is PTSD?
“PTSD” is an acronym that stands for post-traumatic stress disorder, which is somewhat self-explanatory in what the experience is; after someone undergoes a traumatic event, they can experience a mental disorder that consists of high-intensity stress and anxiety centered around the memories and reliving of said traumatic event. The most common thought you might have when you hear the term PTSD is of soldiers returning home after being in combat, and while we didn’t fully understand what PTSD was, that didn’t stop returning veterans from experiencing it. During the era of WW1 and WW2, combat veterans would come home with extreme and recurring anxiety, oftentimes triggered by certain noises, environments, that would trigger traumatic memories of combat. When this finally started to be recognized as a consistent phenomenon, it was given the title of “shell shock”, due to the incessant artillery shelling that many veterans experienced during these world wars. The term “PTSD” didn’t start appearing until the late 70’s/early 80’s, after Vietnam War veterans returned home with similar experiences and symptoms.
But PTSD is not exclusive to soldiers who have experienced combat. Trauma can occur to all types of people in a number of ways. Car crashes, the death of a loved one, domestic abuse, sexual assault, animal attacks, and even pregnancy are just a few examples of the types of trauma that everyday people might experience. The experience of a traumatic event like this has a very strong and deep-rooting effect on the brain. When someone undergoes a traumatic event, they often have an instinctual high-adrenaline response as well as a large release of stress hormones. The overactive adrenaline response creates deep-lying neurological patterns in the brain, while the release of stress hormones suppresses hypothalamic processes in the body, processes that regulate a lot of our natural body operations.
The suppression of regulatory systems allows PTSD to develop after a traumatic experience, and the deep-rooted neurological patterns ingrained by the overactive adrenaline release means that these patterns and their symptoms persist after the traumatic experience. These deep-rooted neurological patterns present themselves as hyper aware and hyper-responsive states to any perceived threat or potential trauma, as well as anxiety over future fearful situations. This can make living everyday life not only challenging, but completely debilitating at times. Things that seemed innocent and part of everyday life could now be triggers for a panic attack or a reliving of the traumatic event. But if you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms of PTSD, you don’t have to keep living your life that way. PTSD treatment has come a long way, and with the team at Wendy Iglehart Therapy in your corner, you can start living your life without fear, and with hope for the future.
To treat the symptoms of PTSD, the modern psychological world has developed a number of ways to approach these patterns in the mind that cause so much recurring distress, but three different approaches have been shown to be the most effective. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is one of the most common approaches to any type of counseling, and could be quite effective against PTSD. The idea behind CBT is to change patterns of thought, to limit cognitive distortions that our brains make up, and give us more practical control over the path and patterns of our thoughts. For PTSD, this can mean limiting the momentum of these hyper-active states and anxiety over future fearful situations.
Another approach quite common for individuals with PTSD is exposure therapy. The practice behind exposure therapy is to find the stimuli that may trigger memories or anxious feelings of the traumatic experience, and allow the individual to be exposed to them in safe and secured environments. The idea is to start “rewiring” the patterns in your brain that have associated that stimuli with the memories of trauma and the anxious responses it induces, and create new, safer, and more controllable memories so the stimuli doesn’t have the same effect.
A third common approach for PTSD treatment is eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). This is similar to the idea of exposure therapy, as the individual with PTSD is asked to recall the traumatic images and memories from their experience. But they are asked to do it while staring into a machine that directs their eyes back and forth on a horizontal plane. While it might seem a little closer to hypnotism than actual psychotherapy, the idea is to reprocess these memories with distractive eye movements which allows the patient to manifest more adaptive beliefs regarding their trauma and the triggers in their deeper memories.
Anxiety and PTSD Treatment – Wendy Iglehart
PTSD is a frustrating experience for anyone who is unlucky enough to suffer from it. But if you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of PTSD, all hope is not lost. With a team of dedicated counselors in your corner, you can approach these symptoms and memories and learn how to take back control. Contact us at Wendy Igleart Therapy and see how we can start supporting you.