When a major life event happens, it is normal to feel stressed or anxious, especially if it changes the trajectory of your life. But when does it cross over into a mental illness that requires treatment? PTSD can be debilitating for the millions of people who suffer from it, and it is imperative to seek treatment before it worsens into fatal consequences. Keep reading to learn more about treatment for PTSD and what happens if you leave PTSD untreated.
What is PTSD?
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric disorder that may occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist act, war/combat, or rape or who have been threatened with death, sexual violence or serious injury, according to the American Psychiatric Association.
There are four major symptoms of PTSD, also according to the American Psychiatric Association. These include:
- Intrusion: Intrusive thoughts such as repeated, involuntary memories; distressing dreams; or flashbacks of the traumatic event. Flashbacks may be so vivid that people feel they are re-living the traumatic experience or seeing it before their eyes.
- Avoidance: Avoiding reminders of the traumatic event may include avoiding people, places, activities, objects, and situations that may trigger distressing memories. People may try to avoid remembering or thinking about the traumatic event. They may resist talking about what happened or how they feel about it.
- Alterations in cognition and mood: Inability to remember important aspects of the traumatic event, negative thoughts and feelings leading to ongoing and distorted beliefs about oneself or others (e.g., “I am bad,” “No one can be trusted”); distorted thoughts about the cause or consequences of the event leading to wrongly blaming self or other; ongoing fear, horror, anger, guilt or shame; much less interest in activities previously enjoyed; feeling detached or estranged from others; or being unable to experience positive emotions (a void of happiness or satisfaction).
- Alterations in arousal and reactivity: Arousal and reactive symptoms may include being irritable and having angry outbursts; behaving recklessly or in a self-destructive way; being overly watchful of one’s surroundings in a suspecting way; being easily startled, or having problems concentrating or sleeping
Treatment for PTSD
The good news about PTSD is that it is a treatable condition. With ongoing care, individuals who suffer from even the most severe forms of PTSD can live normal lives, feeling safe and healthy in their environment and with others. Treatment for PTSD includes:
- Trauma-focused psychotherapies. These include Prolonged Exposure (facing your negative feelings and emotions and learning how to take control and process them), Cognitive Processing Therapy (reframing negative thoughts and recognizing them when they occur), and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), which helps you process your trauma while paying attention to other things, such as a rocking motion.
- Individual and/or group talk therapy. By talking to your therapist about your trauma or talking to others who are also experiencing trauma, you can face and unlock the root cause. You will also learn tools for how to manage triggers and understand PTSD better.
- Holistic therapy. By keeping stress levels low, you can better manage your symptoms and triggers. Exercise, eating healthy, massage, acupuncture, and more can all help keep anxiety at bay and, as such, your PTSD.
Medications. Some medications can be used to treat PTSD and the anxiety and depression associated with it.
What Happens if PTSD Is Left Untreated?
PTSD can cause life-threatening consequences if left untreated. If you feel as if you or someone you love are starting to experience symptoms of PTSD, getting help is the only way to overcome the condition.
Untreated PTSD can cause:
- Chronic pain
- Drug and alcohol abuse
- Sleep problems
- Problems with school, work, and family
- Issues forming relationships
- Anger management issues
- Panic attacks
About The Pointe Malibu Recovery Center
PTSD doesn’t get better by ignoring it or leaving it alone. It can cause a host of other issues and, before it turns into a deadly overdose or suicide, it is essential to seek help. At The Pointe Malibu Recovery Center, we believe that you bring a unique life experience, the pattern of substance use, mental health issues, process addictions, and treatment history with you when you admit for treatment. The full array of your underlying issues must be factored into your diagnosis to achieve a successful treatment outcome. To accomplish that, we develop a highly customized treatment plan that addresses all of your issues and successfully assists you in achieving your recovery goals.
Our Clinical Director supervises the creation of your treatment plan and ongoing care and only carries a caseload when necessary for the most complex cases. This allows the Clinical Director ample time to work with your specific treatment teams as issues come up.
Evidence-based treatment modalities include:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
- Family Therapy
- Executive Coaching
- Experiential Components
- Surf / Water Therapies
- Art & Music Therapy
- Nutritional Counseling
Your mental health treatment team consists of, but is not limited to, the following accredited health professionals:
- Primary Therapist
- Trauma Therapist
- EMDR Therapist
- Family Therapist
- Case Manager
If you’re ready to start your journey to long-lasting recovery from PTSD, we are here for you.