What is PTSD?
PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder) is a mental health problem that some people develop after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event, like combat, a natural disaster, a car accident, or sexual assault.
What are the symptoms of PTSD?
There are four type of PTSD symptoms: reliving the event (nightmares, flashbacks, or triggers), avoiding situations that remind you of the event, negative changes in beliefs and feelings, and feeling keyed up (hyperarousal). Symptoms may not be exactly the same for everyone. PTSD symptoms usually start soon after the traumatic event, but they may not appear until months or years later. They also may come and go over many years. If the symptoms last longer than four weeks, cause you great distress, or interfere with your work or home life, you might have PTSD.
What can I do if I think I have PTSD?
The only way to know for sure if you have PTSD is to talk to a mental health care provider. Take the Self-Screen for PTSD (PC-PTSD-5), to learn if your symptoms suggest you should talk to a provider.
Psychotherapy for PTSD
Psychotherapy, or counseling, involves meeting with a therapist.
- Trauma-focused psychotherapy, which focuses on the memory of the traumatic event or its meaning,is the most effective treatment for PTSD. There are different types of trauma-focused psychotherapy, such as:
- Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT)where you learn skills to understand how trauma changed your thoughts and feelings. Changing how you think about the trauma can change how you feel.
- Prolonged Exposure (PE)where you talk about your trauma repeatedly until memories are no longer upsetting. This will help you get more control over your thoughts and feelings about the trauma. You also go to places or do things that are safe, but that you have been staying away from because they remind you of the trauma.
- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), which involves focusing on sounds or hand movements while you talk about the trauma. This helps your brain work through the traumatic memories.