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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Treatment (PTSD)

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Treatment

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a trauma- and stress-related disorder that can develop after a person witnesses or experiences an extremely traumatic, tragic, horrifying or terrifying event that involves death, serious injury, sexual violence, assault, accident, or disaster. PTSD is always related to an external event.

Trauma can be experienced directly or witnessed. It can also be experienced indirectly through hearing about a close friend or relative who has experienced the event directly. PTSD can result when individuals experience repeated or extreme indirect exposure to traumatic experiences through experiencing, witnessing and having indirect exposure (common victims include soldiers, police officers, firefighters, Emergency Medical Service providers, and emergency room staff).

Most professionals with experience in treating PTSD recognize that people can experience PTSD-like reactions even though the events experienced do not technically meet criteria for a traumatic event as described above. People can experience PTSD-like reactions following such events as divorce, the loss of a loved one, infidelity, media exposure to traumatic events, and emotional abuse.

In addition to having experienced or witnessed a traumatic event, people with PTSD will have suffered for a month or more with the following symptoms:

  • Re-experiencing or intrusions; intrusive memories or thoughts related to the event:
    • Nightmares related to the event;
    • Flashbacks, having the compelling experience that the event is happening again; and
    • Psychological and physical reactivity triggered by reminders of the traumatic event, such as a person, place, situation, or anniversary.
  • Avoidance:
    • People with PTSD will avoid people, situations, thoughts, feelings and memories related to the trauma.
  • Negative alterations in mood or cognition:
    • People with PTSD often have symptoms of depression and experience a variety of difficulties with feeling depressed and being stuck in certain patterns of thinking and feeling. Basically, there is a decline in mood or disruption of thinking and feeling, which can include:
      • Memory problems related exclusively to the event;
      • Negative thoughts and beliefs about the self, other people and the future;
      • A distorted sense of guilt related to the event;
      • Getting stuck in severe emotions related to the event (e.g., horror, shame, sadness);
      • Severely reduced interest in activities that were part of normal pretrauma life; and
      • Feelings of isolation, detachment, and disconnectedness from others.
  • Increased physiological arousal:
    • Following a traumatic event, people remain chronically anxious, “on edge” and “on alert.” The person’s anxiety and fear systems become and stay activated, as if preparing them for the next “bad thing” to happen. Symptoms of persistent hyperarousal include:
      • Sleep difficulties;
      • Anger/irritability;
      • Difficulty concentrating, attending, remembering;
      • Being easily startled;
      • Feeling unreal, dissociated or depersonalized; and
      • Hypervigilance.
  • When people experience extreme physiological hyperarousal they may experience symptoms of dissociation including:
    • Depersonalization – feeling apart from or disconnected from oneself;
    • Derealization – feeling apart from or disconnected from the world, as if the world isn’t real.

In addition to lasting for a month or more, the symptoms of PTSD often cause severe distress and impairment in functioning. Fortunately, PTSD is a highly treatable condition and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is the best treatment for it. However, PTSD is often associated with depression, other anxiety disorders, and substance use problems. Understanding these other problems in the context of PTSD is important. The first step towards effective CBT for PTSD is a proper and thorough differential diagnostic assessment by a psychiatrist or psychologist.


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FAQ
Why choose CBT Associates?

CBT Associates is a large, well-established and rapidly-growing network of clinics that provides evidence-based psychological services to children, adolescents, adults of all ages, and couples.

We are a highly-qualified group of over 50 psychologists and psychological associates who provide personalized, compassionate, respectful and discreet treatment with the highest level of... Read More

What is the policy for cancelled or missed appointments?

To help us reliably meet the needs of all our clients, we must ask you to provide 24 hours’ notice when cancelling or rescheduling an appointment. Appointments without sufficient notice will be charged the full fee.

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What is a psychologist?

Psychologists:

  • Are registered healthcare professionals who are regulated like physicians, surgeons, and dentists.
  • Work with individuals, groups and organizations to promote positive change by assessing and treating psychological problems.
  • Are trained to assess problems accurately using psychological tests and semi-structured interviews.... Read More
What is the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist?

Psychologists are closely aligned with psychiatrists as both are highly-trained professionals. Psychiatrists are oriented toward pharmaceutical solutions (some illnesses in fact lend themselves to medication versus talk therapy, such as severe depression or schizophrenia); while psychologists are oriented toward talk therapy as a solution.

Psychologists and psychiatrists both undertake... Read More

What is the difference between a psychotherapist and a psychologist?

The first important difference between psychotherapists and psychologists is the number of years of education and training required to register by each college. The College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario requires members to complete an undergraduate degree that includes 360 hours (total) of training and education. In contrast, to become a psychologist in Ontario the... Read More

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