Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
- Physical assault
- Natural disaster such as earthquakes, hurricanes, or fires
- Sexual abuse
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Animal attack
- Previous traumatic experiences
- A history of being physically abused
- Poor coping skills
- Lack of social support
- Existing ongoing stress
- A social environment that produces shame, guilt, stigmatization, or self-hatred
- Alcohol use disorder
- Family history of mental health problems
Re-experiencing of the event:
- Dreams or nightmares
- Intrusive memories
- Anxious reactions to reminders of the event
- Avoidance of external reminders of the event, such as places, people, or situations
- Efforts to avoid feelings, thoughts, or memories related to the event
- Negative changes in mood and cognition related to trauma:
- Difficulty remembering relevant details of the trauma
- Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
- Anger and irritability
- Difficulty concentrating or paying attention
- Being easily startled
- Substance abuse problems
- Physical symptoms, such as pain, rapid breathing or heart rate, and sweating
- Depression or anxiety
- Relationship problems
- Symptoms of PTSD, which have lasted for more than one month
- Both emotional distress and disturbed functioning (like problems at school, work, or home) due to the symptoms
- Acute—symptoms last between 1-3 months after the event
- Chronic—symptoms last more than 3 months after the event
- Delayed onset—symptoms do not appear until at least 6 months after the event
- Learning about your current PTSD symptoms
- Better awareness of thoughts, feelings, and negative patterns
- Learning coping skills to manage thoughts about the trauma and current day challenges
- Understand and find the balance between your beliefs before the trauma and beliefs after the trauma
- Cognitive processing therapy (CPT)—Focuses on better understanding and management of distressing thoughts. The therapy focuses on the changes to your thought pattern since the trauma and how this change affects how you act and feel.
- Prolonged exposure therapy—Uses repeated discussion of the trauma with a therapist. The goal is to decrease negative feelings from the trauma, help you develop relaxation skills during stressful times, and eventually decrease the influence of the memory. Though it sounds basic, this process should be done with a therapist to help introduce traumatic memories in a safe method and safe place.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
- Stress inoculation therapy (SIT)—During this type of therapy you will be trained in relaxation techniques, positive reframing of negative thoughts, and assertive communication.
- Group meetings—Meeting in a group with other survivors of trauma can be an effective form of therapy for people with PTSD.
- Family therapy—May improve relationships between family members, give family members support, and help family understand your PTSD challenges.
- Mindfulness meditation—Paying attention to breathing and focusing on present experiences may help you manage stress.
- Working with a cognitive-behavioral therapist
- Having a strong network of social support
Anxiety and Depression Association of America http://www.adaa.org
National Center for PTSD—US Department of Veterans Affairs http://www.ptsd.va.gov
Canadian Psychiatric Association http://www.cpa-apc.org
Canadian Psychological Association http://cpa.ca
Antidepressant use in children, adolescents, and adults. US Food and Drug Administration website. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/InformationbyDrugClass/UCM096273. Updated December 23, 2014. Accessed January 26, 2016.
Benedek DM, Friedman MJ, Zatzick D. Guideline watch: practice guideline for the treatment of patients with acute stress disorder and posttraumatic stress disorder. Focus. 2009;7:204-213.
Jeffereys M. Clinician's guide to medications for PTSD. United States Department of Veterans Affairs website. Available at: http://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/treatment/overview/clinicians-guide-to-medications-for-ptsd.asp. Updated August 17, 2015. Accessed January 26, 2016.
Post-traumatic stress disorder. American Psychiatric Association website. Available at: http://www.apa.org/topics/ptsd/index.aspx. Accessed January 26, 2016.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114915/Posttraumatic-stress-disorder-PTSD. Updated August 19, 2016. Accessed September 15, 2016.
Treatment of PTSD. US Department of Veterans Affairs website. Available at: http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/treatment/therapy-med/index.asp. Accessed January 26, 2016.
3/16/2007 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Schnurr PP, Friedman MJ, Engel CC, et al. Cognitive behavioral therapy for posttraumatic stress disorder in women: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA. 2007;297(8):820-830.
11/19/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Ji L, Xiaowei Z, Chuanlin W, Wei L. Investigation of posttraumatic stress disorder in children after animal-induced injury in China. Pediatrics. 2010;126(2):e320-324.
10/12/2015 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Polusny MA, Erbes CR, Thuras P, et al. Mindfulness-based stress reduction for posttraumatic stress disorder among veterans: a randomized clinical trial. JAMA. 2015;314(5):456-465.
- Reviewer: Adrian Preda, MD
- Review Date: 12/2015 -
- Update Date: 01/26/2016 -