Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: Some Questions and Answers
Q: What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD?
A: Weeks, months, or years after a traumatic event, survivors can find themselves bombarded with flashbacks, feelings of fear, sadness or anger and strong reactions to triggers such as loud noises. Post-traumatic stress disorder, also known as PTSD, is a mental health condition that can be helped with appropriate care.
Q: What can trigger PTSD?
A: Disturbing or catastrophic events such as natural disasters, car accidents, terrorist attacks, shootings or other physical attacks, rape, war or the death of a loved one could lead to PTSD. Those who experience PTSD could themselves be a victim of a traumatic event or witnesses to others’ suffering, either directly, by seeing injuries, or indirectly, as in the case of those who learn of details of attacks or abuse.
Q: Who develops PTSD?
A: Not everyone who is exposed to trauma develops PTSD. The symptoms are more common in women and those who experienced previous trauma, particularly as children. PTSD is also more prevalent in those with other physical and mental health conditions.
Q: When does PTSD arise?
A: Everyone feels shaken immediately after a traumatic event. However, for people with PTSD, symptoms persist more than a month after the event and continue for months or years. For some people, PTSD symptoms do not appear until several months after the event.
Q: What are the symptoms of PTSD?
A: Symptoms include involuntary memories or vivid flashbacks of the traumatic event and disturbing dreams. People with PTSD may experience feelings of anger, guilt and shame. They may no longer find pleasure in their favorite activities. Some feel isolated, drawing away from family and friends. They may avoid triggers that remind them of the distressing event, including places, objects, people or activities. People with PTSD may feel irritable, engage in self-destructive behaviors, have problems concentrating or sleeping, respond strongly to loud noises or unexpected touches, or have angry outbursts. Some have physical symptoms, including increased heart and blood pressure rates, unexplained pain and fatigue.
Q: How can PTSD be treated?
A:There is help for PTSD. It can be treated. Proven treatments include cognitive behavioral therapy, cognitive processing therapy, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) and Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART). Some people may also find relief with medications, such as antidepressants, as well as therapy.
Q: What is Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART)?
A: ART is a therapeutic technique performed by a therapist, social worker or counselor who has undergone specialized training. The practitioner guides a client’s eyes through a series of lateral movements while talking through a series of prompts. The technique empowers clients to move traumatic memories out of the forefront of the brain. Clients are able to reframe troubling experiences. ART was created more than a decade ago and has been proven effective in numerous scientific studies, including several conducted by the Department of Defense. Most clients experience a complete or significant reduction of their symptoms in an average of four sessions with ART. Clients do not need to discuss the details of their disturbing experience with the clinician who is treating them, making ART an effective treatment for those who do not feel comfortable discussing the traumatic event. Many clients try ART after other treatments fail and find that the therapeutic technique finally enables them to heal from the trauma. For more information about ART, please visit artherapyinternational.com.
Interviews can be arranged with Kelly Breeding, LCSW, the executive director of ART International, therapists who employ ART in their practices, and Kevin Kip, Ph.D, a trauma expert who has conducted significant research into the efficacy of ART. Several former clients who found relief with ART are also available for interviews, including Brian Anderson, a former Green Beret who developed PTSD from combat-related trauma. Contact Julie Scharper, firstname.lastname@example.org, to schedule interviews.