PTSD Treatment at Alvarado Parkway Institute

Many people who've experienced a serious traumatic event in their lives will have a significant emotional response. After a violent assault, a natural disaster, a serious car accident, or active combat, it's normal to have low levels of anxiety, difficulty sleeping, or frightening thoughts. However, when these symptoms persist or recur over a period of months, it may indicate a larger, more serious mental health problem called post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.

What Causes Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, PTSD affects 3.5% of the U.S. population. That's about 8 million Americans who are struggling to recover from a traumatic event. While no one knows for certain what the exact causes are, there are several known risk factors for developing PTSD, such as lack of a strong support system, ongoing exposure to trauma, or a history of mental illness or substance abuse.

Not every person who experiences trauma will develop post-traumatic stress disorder, but PTSD doesn't discriminate ? it can occur at any age, to any person who's undergone an intensely distressing or life-threatening experience.

What Are the Symptoms of PTSD?

About 37% of people who suffer from PTSD are described as having severe symptoms. Of these symptoms, the most common are:

  • Flashbacks: Memories of the event are often intrusive, intense, and vivid. People who experience flashbacks will have sensory reminders of the trauma, with sounds and smells rushing back as if they are occurring in the present moment.

  • Avoidance: Knowing that certain people or places may trigger bad memories, people with PTSD may avoid these reminders to their own detriment. They may also suppress troublesome thoughts or feelings.
  • Reactivity: PTSD can cause people to lose sleep, be constantly on edge, or engage in angry outbursts, seemingly out of nowhere. Reactive symptoms tend to be constant, as opposed to triggered by reminders of trauma, making it hard to engage in daily tasks and responsibilities.
  • Changes in mood: Dissociation and apathy can occur after a traumatic event, but in individuals with PTSD, these symptoms are long-lasting and can get worse over time. People lose interest in previously enjoyable activities, they withdraw from social interaction, and they may even block out the traumatic event entirely.

How Is PTSD Treated?

The goal of treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder is to alleviate symptoms, to teach coping skills, and to foster independence so you can live a full, satisfying life, free of debilitating episodes. Treatment plans vary based on individual symptoms and situations, but most patients suffering from PTSD will engage in:

  • Psychotherapy: Different types of therapy have been successfully employed in helping patients overcome the symptoms of PTSD. In particular, cognitive behavioral therapy is often used to help patients face their fears, to remind them that they are in control, and to make sense of the bad memories so they are more manageable and less overwhelming.

  • Support groups: Group counseling sessions enable patients to learn from each other's experiences, gain exposure to alternative perspectives, and connect with others who have been in similar situations. It also provides a chance for patients to practice the new skills they've learned in therapy in a safe and supportive environment.
  • Medication: Sometimes, antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications can be effective in controlling PTSD symptoms, helping patients to regain a sense of self-control, as well as improving sleep and concentration.

Get help for PTSD at Alvarado Parkway Institute

If you've been struggling with the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, Alvarado Parkway Institute can give you the treatment you need to recover. Our experienced and dedicated staff has provided mental health services to patients in San Diego for over 35 years. Not only do we seek to alleviate your symptoms, but we'll also help you thoroughly understand your illness so you can go on to experience a higher quality of life.

Recovery is possible. Call us at (619) 485-1432 for more information.