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What is PTSD?

Nancy MacGregor MA, ATR-BC, LPC, ACS, Clinical Director

The Short Answer

What is PTSD? Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder caused by a traumatic event. When low-grade panic and anxiety escalate to anxiety attacks and panic attacks, they fall into the class of anxiety disorders, which can be detrimental to a person’s life. However, they are treatable through psychotherapy and medication with a South Jersey PTSD therapist or South Jersey PTSD psychiatrist.

The anxiety element of post-traumatic stress disorder arises because sufferers are typically survivors of traumatic events such as:

  • a natural disaster
  • a serious accident
  • a terrorist act
  • war or combat action
  • rape or violent personal assault

The DSM Criteria Answer to What is PTSD?

The American Psychological Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) sets the following criteria to diagnose PTSD:

  1. Exposure to a traumatic event with at least one of the following: direct exposure to or a first-hand witness to the trauma, the discovery of a family member or close friend was traumatized, or indirect exposure in the course of professional duties.
  2. The person persistently re-experiences the traumatic event by repeating and intrusive remembering of the event, distressing dreams or nightmares caused by the event, acting out or feeling as if the event was recurring, feeling intense distress when exposed to internal or external cues or symbols of the traumatic event, or experiencing physiological reactivity.
  3. Persistently avoids stimuli associated with the trauma and suppresses normal responses by either avoiding thoughts, feelings, or conversations or avoiding people, places, or activities stimulating recollection.
  4. Negative mood and cognition in at least two of the following ways: inability to remember important aspect of traumatic event, extremely negative assumptions about oneself and the world, unfounded or exaggerated blame of self or others, significant disinterest in participation in the normal business of life, feelings of estrangement or detachment from others, feelings of hopelessness about future happiness, or a lack of loving feelings or emotional attachment to others.
  5. Experiencing trauma-related arousal or reactions that began or became worse after the trauma such as irritable, aggressive, risky, or destructive behavior, hypervigilance, an exaggerated startle response, inability to concentrate, or difficulty sleeping.

To meet the criteria of PTSD, the above symptoms must have lasted for more than one month. In addition, they must create distress or impairment in social and occupational relationships. Also, symptoms must not be caused by medication, substance use, or other illness, though substance abuse can sometimes be caused by PTSD.

Addressing PTSD with Effective Treatment and Therapy

The main goals of PTSD therapy are to help a person reconcile with their trauma, teach skills to deal with the feelings it causes, and restore self-esteem. Everyone has their own individual path to recovery, but the same principles apply across the board.

A therapist treats PTSD through cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). The goal is to change the patterns of thought that are disturbing the sufferer’s life by providing the tools to help the person talk about the trauma and find its source.

CBT is the umbrella treatment for other PTSD treatment options including:

  • Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT)
  • Prolonged Exposure Therapy (PE)
  • Stress Inoculation Therapy (SIT)
  • Medications

Harmony Bay Wellness Treats Those Suffering from PTSD

PTSD is a complex psychological issue that many people need help for. If you’re living with PTSD, it’s never too late to reach out and get help. Harmony Bay Wellness has the treatment, therapists and psychiatrists for Cherry Hill PTSD sufferers. If you or your loved one is suffering from this debilitating condition, you can find relief and turn the corner to recovery. Call us at [Direct] and arrange for a consultation with one of our licensed therapists today.

Treatment with Harmony Bay

Harmony Bay is an outpatient behavioral health service that offers primary mental health treatment for a variety of mental health disorders. Our mission is to make mental health care convenient and affordable while providing an unmatched experience to our clients. contact us today by calling 855.765.6399.