Post-traumatic stress disorder is not just a mental disorder that affects veterans. People who have experienced a traumatic event/events in their lives are at higher risk for the disorder. Being aware of symptoms in yourself and others and seeking professional help from a psychiatrist and/or therapist is critical.

Trauma comes in many forms. People experience traumatic events in the form of sexual assault, natural disasters, or witnessing something like a car accident. All of these forms of trauma put a person at higher risk for the development of what is known in the medical community as “PTSD.” We used to think that this was a special disorder limited to combat soldiers and people coming back from war. However, evidence has shown that many forms of trauma can permanently alter the brain and lead to symptoms of PTSD. The University of Alabama at Birmingham notes that PTSD affects 3.5 percent of the U.S. adult population, which is approximately 8 million Americans.

While PTSD can look different depending on the person, symptoms of PTSD can be linked to four categories: 1) intrusions, 2) avoidance, 3) hyperarousal, and 4) negative alterations in mood or thinking. Intrusions are things like recurring nightmares or flashbacks related to the trauma. Avoidant symptoms are seen when a person avoids situations, places or people related to the trauma to avoid reliving it. Hyperarousal symptoms can be seen when a person is more on-edge or irritable as a result of the trauma. Finally, negative alterations in mood and thinking can be so severe that people have a hard time completing daily tasks and, in the most severe cases, can end their lives.

But there is good news: for people who struggle with PTSD, treatment (in the form of medication and/or therapy) can greatly improve their quality of life. Depending on the severity of the trauma and how debilitated a person is by symptoms, our psychiatrists at CalPsychiatry can help determine the best course of treatment. If you or a loved one may be struggling after enduring or witnessing a traumatic event, call our practice for an assessment. You don’t have to live in the confines of your trauma any longer. Get help today.


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