Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that can occur after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. It is common in people who have been through combat, natural disasters, accidents, sexual assault, or other life-threatening events.
PTSD can be a debilitating condition that affects every aspect of a person's life.
Symptoms of PTSD
The symptoms experienced by someone who suffers from PTSD can be grouped into four categories:
- Intrusive thoughts
- Negative changes in mood and cognition
Intrusive thoughts can include flashbacks, nightmares, and distressing memories of the traumatic event.
Avoidance symptoms can involve avoiding people, places, or situations that remind the person of the traumatic event.
Hyperarousal symptoms can include irritability, anger outbursts, difficulty sleeping, and feeling on edge. Negative changes in mood and cognition can involve feelings of guilt, shame, detachment, and difficulty experiencing positive emotions.
PTSD can also have physical symptoms such as
- Stomach aches
- Muscle tension
Triggers can vary from person to person but can include anything that reminds the person of the traumatic event such as sounds, smells, sights, or people.
Therapies that help PTSD
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) are two of the most effective therapies for treating PTSD.
CBT involves working with a therapist to identify negative thoughts and behaviours related to the traumatic event and then developing coping strategies to manage these thoughts and behaviours.
EMDR involves the person recalling the traumatic event while engaging in eye movements, which can help reduce the intensity of the traumatic memories.
Benefits of CBT and EMDR
The benefits of CBT and EMDR for people suffering from PTSD include a reduction in symptoms, improved coping strategies, and an overall improvement in quality of life.
The differences between CBT and EMDR when used for people suffering from PTSD are that CBT is more focused on changing negative thoughts and behaviours, while EMDR is more focused on reducing the intensity of traumatic memories.
It is important for anyone who thinks they may be suffering from PTSD to seek a diagnosis from a healthcare professional. At Kove we administer a test to determine if the person meets the criteria for a PTSD diagnosis.
In a study published in the Journal of Traumatic Stress, researchers found that both CBT and EMDR were effective in reducing symptoms of PTSD.
The study showed that EMDR was slightly more effective in reducing symptoms related to intrusion and hyperarousal, while CBT was more effective in reducing avoidance symptoms.
In conclusion, PTSD is a debilitating mental health condition that can occur after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event.
The symptoms of PTSD can be intrusive thoughts, avoidance, hyperarousal, and negative changes in mood and cognition.
Physical symptoms and triggers can also occur. CBT and EMDR are two effective therapies for treating PTSD, with slight differences in their focus.
It is recommended for anyone who thinks they may be suffering from PTSD to seek a diagnosis from a healthcare professional. Research shows that both CBT and EMDR are effective in reducing symptoms of PTSD.
Reference: Rauch, S. A., et al. (2012). Efficacy of Prolonged Exposure Therapy, Sertraline Hydrochloride, and Their Combination Among Combat Veterans With Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Psychiatry, 69(12), 1176–1184. https://doi.org/10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2012.131