PostTraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

What is PostTraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?

PostTraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is defined as a mental disorder resulting from exposure to an extreme traumatic stressor, including motor vehicle accidents.  For individuals exposed to traumatic stress, approximately 14-24% develop PTSD though the prevalence may vary depending on the nature and severity of the traumatic exposure.  This diagnosis is the most prevalent of all mental disorders, surpassed only by substance use disorders and depression as major public and mental health issues.

What are some of the symptoms of PTSD?
  • Re-experiencing the trauma
  • Anxiety
  • Fearful feelings
  • Avoidance and numbing
  • Increased arousal with nightmares and startling reaction which last at least one month, and cause significant distress or deteriorated functioning

The distress from these symptoms causes significant impairment in social, occupational or other important aspects of functioning with more intense physical pain, increased affective distress, and decreased function.  PTSD is a debilitating condition that requires clarification of the underlying psychological and neurobiological mechanisms, with attention to the individual’s interpersonal and medical problems.

What is the purpose of treatment for PTSD?

Because most people recover from PTSD but depression is common following traumatic loss of close person, home or job, the need for integrated care, addressing these debilitating symptoms is important as treated PTSD can last for decades.   Approaches include Psychodynamic and Cognitive-Behavioral therapies as well as pharmacologic approaches for the optimal treatment of PTSD.  The purpose of strategies taught to the patient is

  • to acquire psychoeducation about PTSD,
  • learn healthy coping skills such as effects of PTSD on relationships,
  • understand factors that contribute to anxiety or depression,
  • identify triggers for  PTSD,
  • dealing with guilt and shame,
  • dealing with loss and grief,
  • relaxation skills,
  • anger management, and
  • finding meaning.
What are the client benefits of biopsychosocial model treatment?
  • Return to work
  • Decreased symptoms
  • Improved symptom management
  • Improved mood
  • Decreased health care utilization
  • Increased function
  • Improved relationships
  • Enhanced quality of life