What is Post -Traumatic Stress Disorder
Post -Traumatic Stress Disorder is a psychological condition resulting from exposure to traumatic events that causes intense emotional suffering and disturbed behavior. The medical establishment has defined PTSD as resulting from exposure to "actual or thrreatened death, serious injury, or sexual violence". The person may have experienced the event directly or may have witnessed the event happening to someone else. Learning that such an event happened to a close friend or family member also qualifies a legitimate trauma.
Symptoms of PTSD
Intense distress occurs in many ways: the person experiences distressing recurrent dreams, repetitive visual flashbacks or "reliving"of the event, and distressing memories of the event even when not trying to recall the experience. Emotions are intense and negative (fear, horror, anger, guilt, shame). False beliefs about the world are common (no one can be trusted; my life is ruined). Psychological arousal is high - hyperviglilance, irritability without apparent cause, reckless or self-destructive behavior, concentration problems, nightmares and serious difficulty sleeping.
The problem of Shame
Victims of traumatic events are often shamed into not seeking treatment. Suffering is minimized or denied. "Time heals all wounds" they are told. "Suck it up, be a man" they are cajoled. This happens most often in organizations where stoic acceptance or "manliness" is valued, such as the military, police, fire fighters, and other first responders. Victims of sexual assault are often encouraged not to report the crime and therfore fail to get adequate diagnosis or treatment.
Diagnosis of PTSD
PTSD needs to be diagnosed by a mental health professional with experience dealing with trauma. Without sufficient expertise, the the correct diagnosis can easily be missed and instead the patient is diagnosed with anxiety or depression, or very commonly nowadays, bipolar disorder. Accurate diagnosis is key because that leads to effective treatment. Dr. Schooler specializes in the diagnosis of PTSD.
Treatment of PTSD
Numerous psychological strategies have been attempted in treating PTSD. In my over 30 years of experience as a psychologist the most effective psychological treatment is Rapid Resolution Therapy (RRT), a revolutionary approach developed by Dr. Jon Connelly. Most people suffering from PTSD, regardless of how severe or intense, can be successfully treated in just one or two sessions of RRT.