PTSD

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Symptoms

The Kovner Center offers individual therapy for trauma and severe stress. We also see family members for family therapy and marital/couples therapy because trauma and stress affects all of our relationships. 

Research reports that half of all trauma victims recover without treatment. For the rest, the initial recovery often stalls. At one month past the traumatic event, the core PTSD symptom reactions interfere with ability to function. For these individuals, symptom severity plays a significant role in recovery.

The causes of PTSD may include: exposure to direct trauma or witnessing a traumatic event. Multiple traumatic events amplify the stress. Trauma from domestic violence, war, bullying at school, torture, rape, robbery or mugging, the threat of death, or severe injury from a work or car accident.  Any one of these events can wreck havoc on our lives.

Symptoms of trauma can vary. You may be experiencing:

  • Intense distress by things that remind you of the traumatic event
  • Frequent feelings of guilt, fear, shame, confusion or sadness
  • Intrusive unwanted memories of the traumatic event
  • A persistent feeling of disturbance over reminders of the traumatic event
  • Dissociative reactions or flash backs in which you feel you are reliving the trauma
  • Nightmarish dreams
  • Avoidance of things that remind you of the traumatic event, e.g., memories, conversations, people, etc.
  • Altered mood or thinking connected to the trauma, e.g., amnesia for some important aspect of the event
  • Dysphoria, including: an overwhelming negative mood, low opinion of yourself and the world, shrinking away of interest in social activities, lack of joy
  • Feeling detached from others and socially withdrawing
  • verbal or physical anger with little provocation
  • Reckless behavior, e.g., risky sex, substance abuse, compulsion to return to or repeat the traumatic event often resulting in retraumatization.
  • Hypervigilance, exaggerated startle
  • Problems concentrating
  • Difficulty sleeping
The symptoms tend to fall into four clusters:
  • intrusive Imagery and Sensations: Survivors report intrusive tactile, auditory and pain sensations alone or accompanied by visual memories of traumatic experiences
  • Distorted Cognitions and Cognitive Processes: Trauma survivors, especially those whose recovery is stalling, exhibit persistent distortions in both cognitions and cognitive processes around the traumatic event
  • Negative Affect and Arousal: Any strong negative emotions: any activity that enables a trauma survivor to avoid or escape from intrusive memories, thoughts, and feelings of the trauma constitutes avoidance and hinders normal recovery.
  • Escape and Avoidance: May include an array of behaviors that themselves can develop into another Axis I disorder such as substance abuse and dependence

The resulting symptoms may cause you to become dysfunctional at work, in your role at home or other important areas of living.

 Treatment of PTSD

Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT), Mindfulness, Motivational Interviewing (MI)

The recurring disturbing memories, dreams and flashbacks cause us to be hypervigilent when out in public.  We want our lives to become normal again so that we can enjoy our loved ones. If you are engaging in risky behaviors, that too is part of the reaction some of have to trauma. Many of us find that numbing ourselves with drugs or alcohol temporarily relieves the stress, however that may lead to other problems in our lives.  

The Kovner Center provides a safe, caring and understanding environment to help you heal. 

Research reports that half of all trauma victims recover without treatment. For the rest of us, the initial recovery often stalls. At one month past the traumatic event, the core PTSD symptom reactions interfere with ability to function. For those patients who are not doing well,  we can help.

Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

In CPT, the disrupted beliefs about the traumatic event interrupt normal functioning by “intensifying normal emotions or cause a “freezing” or numbing of the emotions and you may report feeling nothing or only the most negative emotions such as anger, agitation, or irritability. These emotional disturbances lead to disruptive behavior, such as avoidance, defensiveness, irritability, anxiety, depression, or withdrawal or violence. In treatment, clients find relief from these psycho-neurological symptoms.

Feeling more like yourself, you can begin to renew your old interests and social activities without the recurrence of discomfort and flash backs. With treatment, a return to a productive life, friendship, marriage, exploration of career options, etc., are possible.

Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

In CPT, the disrupted beliefs about the traumatic event interrupt normal functioning by intensifying normal emotions or cause a freezing or numbing of the emotions so that the clients reports feeling nothing. These emotional disturbances affect behavior by causing symptoms, such as avoidance, defensiveness, irritability, anxiety, depression, or withdrawal. In treatment, clients are educated about PTSD and how it affects them neurologically. They are taught Cognitive Behavior Therapy to connect their symptoms to their cognitive distortions or thinking errors which prevent their recovery and amplify and intensify normal moods. 

Mindfulness

Traumatic experiences can become “frozen” or “stuck” in the lymbic system (emotional system) when we activate the sympathetic nervous system in threat, fear and horror. This “activation” then becomes a triggering mechanism for symptoms associated with the original trauma. This works through conditioned responses where anything close to the traumatic event in time, space, meaning, sound, image, smell, sensation, or touch can set off an episode of “re-experiencing” the trauma. This can be experienced as a panic attack, a sense of depersonalization, or a dissociative state. It can also trigger compulsive or impulsive behaviors to “numb” the experience. So, episodes of substance abuse, cutting, sexual acting-out, etc. are not uncommon. These behaviors also may lead to misdiagnoses, for example, trauma victims may be thought to have borderline personality disorder, bipolar disorder and other psycho-pathological disorders. With Mindfulness Therapy, clients experience a change in their mental state that permits increased stress tolerance, changes in perception of memories, images and sensations associated with the trauma, and ability to feel their feelings.

Feeling more like yourself, you can begin to renew your old interests and social activities without the recurrence of discomfort and flash backs. With treatment, a return to a productive life, friendship, marriage, exploration of career options, etc., are possible.

Call now for an appointment for an initial interview at (770) 729-0123

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