We assist our clients in creating an understanding and comprehension of their present state of mind and of their emotional reactions to the traumatic event(s). In specific, we teach our clients stress reduction methods that help them reduce the stress reactions that contribute to the maintenance of irritability, anxiety, poor sleep, high emotional distress, depression, etc. The focus is on the development and implementation of coping strategies regarding the diagnosed PTSD condition through setting of goals and objectives to implement and maximally enhance recovery and eventual return to as much of pre-morbid functioning as possible. Further, we pay special attention to the development of psychological management strategies to bring about a return to as much of normal daily function as quickly as possible, despite ongoing PTSD restrictions.
Perhaps under the influence of social media and Hollywood, when it comes to the topic of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, most people would conjure up images of war and disasters, first responders, and war veterans with PTSD dogs. However, the kind of trauma that can produce PTSD goes beyond that and many individuals have been living a life with PTSD after being exposed to traumatic experiences over the course of their development that without sharing the intensity of movies, have left profound effects in their brains. Very importantly, these experiences have shaped their emotional responses to significant others (partners, fiends, children, for example) who have struggled over the course of years to understand why it is that their spouse, their dad, their friend has been acting in such peculiar ways when it comes to closeness, anger, drinking, and emotional repair.
After being exposed to a traumatic experience, we often think about them long after the event itself; we also experience other symptoms such as a strong sense of threat, feeling emotionally numb, and have to deal with persistent irritability. Many individuals also struggle with what we call “co-morbidity” or the fact that untreated PTSD can lead to other mental health illnesses that are the consequence of the original trauma(s). In specific, they will experience depression, anxiety, dysthymia (a persistent form of depression that has a lower intensity compared to an episode of major depression), and difficulties with concentration that is often confused with ADD/ADHD.
Often, a person may not have all the symptoms required to make a full diagnosis of PTSD because they are missing 1 or 2 symptoms. In these cases, we can speak of “subsyndromal” or “partial” PTSD, which can still affect psychological functioning in significant ways. For example, many individuals we have helped recover from PTSD often describe intense discomfort in social situations, not wanting to engage in small talk, a desire to live “in the woods”, and a tendency towards solitary activities, which is often at odds with their family’s and/or their partner’s plans or desires. The use of maladaptive coping strategies such as excessive alcohol consumption, for example, is also typical of both subsyndromal and full-blown PTSD.
At least 1 of:
Intrusive thoughts or images about the event
Dreams or nightmares about the event or similar events
Flashbacks or illusions about the event (children may act out the event in play)
Distress when reminded of the event
Physical arousal (becoming physically upset) when reminded of the event
At least 1 of:
Avoidance of thoughts or feelings associated with the event
Avoidance of reminders of the trauma (people, places, activities, objects, or situations)
At least 2 of:
Inability to recall important aspects of event (not explained by loss of consciousness)
Ongoing negative beliefs and expectations about oneself (e.g., “I am bad”) or the world (e.g.,
“The world is a very dangerous place”).
Unnecessarily blaming self or others for causing the traumatic event or for consequences
Persistent negative trauma-related emotions (e.g., fear, horror, anger, guilt, or shame)
A decreased interest in previously significant/enjoyable activities
Feeling detached/alienated from others
Restricted emotions (e.g., persistent inability to experience positive emotions)
At least 2 of:
Irritable or aggressive behaviour
Self-destructive or careless behaviour
Hypervigilance (always on guard)
Exaggerated startle response (too easily startled or scared)