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Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as defined by the Mayo Clinic “is a mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event—either experiencing it or witnessing it.” PTSD is recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) and can be found listed under Trauma- and Stressor- Related Disorders. It is highly common for people with PTSD to suffer from co-occurring disorders, such as chronic pain, anxiety disorders, depression, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). According to the National Center for PTSD, a program of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, about seven or eight of every 100 people will experience PTSD in their lifetime. Each person with PTSD has the propensity to experience varying levels of severity of symptoms. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) divided the symptoms of PTSD into the following four categories: 

  1. Intrusion symptoms: The traumatic event is persistently re-experienced in the following way(s):
    1. Involuntary, upsetting memories
    2. Distressing dreams
    3. Flashbacks
    4. Emotional distress after exposure to traumatic reminders
    5. Physical reactivity after exposure to traumatic reminders
  2. Avoidance: Avoidance of trauma-related stimuli after the trauma, in the following way(s):
    1. Avoiding people, places, activities, objects, and situations that may trigger distressing memories. 
    2. People may try to avoid remembering or thinking about the traumatic event. 
    3. Resist talking about what happened or how they feel about it.
  3. Alterations in cognition and mood: Negative thoughts or feelings that began or worsened after the trauma, in the following way(s):
    1. Inability to remember important aspects of the traumatic event
    2. Overly negative thoughts and assumptions about oneself or the world
    3. Exaggerated blame of self or others for causing the trauma
    4. Negative affect
    5. Decreased interest in activities
    6. Ongoing fear, horror, anger, guilt, or shame
    7. Feeling detached or estranged from others
    8. Experiencing a void of happiness or satisfaction
  4. Alterations in arousal and reactivity: Trauma-related arousal and reactivity that began or worsened after the trauma, in the following way(s):
    1. Difficulty sleeping
    2. Hypervigilance
    3. Irritability or aggression
    4. Difficulty concentrating
    5. Risky or destructive behavior
    6. Heightened startle reaction

As is outlined in the PTSD diagnostic criteria provided in the DSM-5, for a person to be diagnosed with PTSD, his or her symptoms must last for more than one month, must create distress or functional impairment, and must not be due to medication, substance use, or other illness. 

For Information and Support 

Every family in need of mental health treatment must select a program that will best suit the needs of their family. When one member of a family struggles, it impacts everyone in the family unit. To maximize the benefits of treatment we work closely with the entire family to ensure that everyone is receiving the support they need through these difficult times. Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know needs mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to reach out for help as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for many mental health difficulties to impact a person’s life, long term. Pursuing support at the beginning of one’s journey can put the individual in the best position to learn how to manage themselves in a healthy way so they can go on to live happy and fulfilling lives.


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