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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental and behavioral disorder that can develop as a result of exposure to a traumatic event. Approximately 3.5% of adults in the United States struggle with PTSD each year, and as many as 9% of people will develop it at some point in their lifetime. With treatment, individuals can lessen PTSD symptoms, and some learn to process the traumatic event and emotions in a healthy way and overcome their disorder. At Bespoke Treatment, we offer a number of evidence-based therapies and treatments for PTSD, including EMDR therapy, transcranial magnetic stimulation, neurofeedback, and ketamine treatment.

What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a mental health condition that can develop after a person experiences or witnesses a traumatic event, such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist act, war/combat, rape or other violent personal assault. PTSD is a condition relating to the emotional processing of memories and events; when the brain doesn’t properly process a traumatic event, it can lead to severe emotional distress and interfere with daily life. When a person develops PTSD, they can experience flashbacks or nightmares of the traumatic memory and may avoid places or situations that could remind them of the event.


Feeling stressed is common after experiencing trauma, and it can take weeks to process a traumatic memory. With PTSD, symptoms last for more than a month after the traumatic event. Sometimes, PTSD symptoms don’t arise immediately after the event, but can develop months or years later. Symptoms can cause severe distress and interfere with one’s ability to work or carry out usual daily tasks. Individuals who experience prolonged trauma, such as slavery, concentration camps, or chronic domestic abuse, may develop C-PTSD, or complex PTSD. This type of PTSD has a distinct impact on a person’s core identity and emotional regulation.

What are the symptoms of PTSD?

The symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder are typically grouped into four main types: intrusive memories, avoidance, negative changes in mood and thinking, and changes in emotional and physical reactions.


Intrusive memories

Individuals with PTSD can re-experience the traumatic event in their mind or emotionally. This includes:

  • Flashbacks, or reliving the event as if it were happening again
  • Recurrent, distressing memories of the event
  • Nightmares or upsetting dreams about the event
  • Intense emotional distress or physical reactions to reminders of the event



Individuals often show avoidance symptoms, such as:

  • Avoiding talking or thinking about the event
  • Avoiding situations, places, or people that could remind them of the event
  • Difficulty remembering details or major parts of the event


Negative changes in mood and thinking

Symptoms affecting mood and cognition include:

  • Hopelessness about the future
  • Negative beliefs about the self, other people, or the world
  • Memory problems
  • Feeling detached from friends and family or difficulty maintaining close relationships
  • Lack of interest in once enjoyed activities
  • Feeling emotionally numb or difficulty experiencing positive emotions


Changes in emotional and physical reactions

Also called arousal symptoms, individuals may experience an increased emotional or physical reactivity:

  • Being easily frightened or startled
  • Feeling constantly on edge or on guard
  • Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
  • Irritability, angry outbursts, or aggressive behavior
  • Self-destructive behavior
  • Overwhelming shame or guilt


The intensity of PTSD symptoms can vary person-to-person and over time. Symptoms may be more frequent or intense when stressed or when reminded of the traumatic event. If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, get help or contact a doctor or mental health professional immediately.


Risk Factors for Developing PTSD

Not everyone develops PTSD after experiencing a traumatic event. There are a number of risk factors that may indicate the likelihood of developing the disorder after experiencing trauma.

  • The severity of the traumatic event: The more severe the event, the greater the risk of developing PTSD
  • A history of mental health problems: People with a history of mental health problems may be more likely to develop PTSD after a traumatic event
  • A lack of social support: People with a lack of social support may be more likely to develop PTSD after a traumatic event
  • Family history of mental health problems: People with a family history of mental health problems may be more likely to develop PTSD

Personal factors like genetics, early childhood experiences, and coping mechanisms can also play a role in one’s susceptibility to developing the disorder.

Treatment Options for PTSD

There are a variety of treatment options for individuals with PTSD, which includes a number of therapies, medications, and alternative options.

CBT is based on the idea that our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are interconnected, and that changing our thoughts and behaviors can lead to changes in our feelings. CBT for PTSD typically includes several components.

  1. Exposure therapy: This involves gradually confronting and desensitizing the person to the traumatic memory or triggers in a safe and controlled environment. This can help reduce the fear and avoidance associated with the traumatic event.
  2. Cognitive therapy: This involves identifying and challenging negative thoughts and beliefs about the traumatic event, such as feelings of guilt or self-blame, and replacing them with more balanced and realistic thoughts.
  3. Relaxation and stress management techniques: This can include breathing exercises, muscle relaxation, and mindfulness to help reduce symptoms of anxiety and hyper-arousal associated with PTSD.
  4. Education: This involves providing information about PTSD and the impact of trauma on the brain and body. This can help the person understand their symptoms and how to manage them.
EMDR is an evidence-based therapy based on the idea that traumatic memories are stored in the brain differently than normal memories and that EMDR can help to “process” these memories and reduce their negative impact. During EMDR therapy, the person is asked to focus on a traumatic memory while the therapist guides their eye movements (or other forms of bilateral stimulation) back and forth. This is thought to mimic the rapid eye movements that occur during REM sleep and to help the brain process the traumatic memory. The person is also asked to focus on different aspects of the traumatic memory, such as their feelings and thoughts about the event, and to rate the level of distress associated with the memory. As the person recounts the traumatic memory, their level of distress should decrease. The therapist will also teach the person coping strategies and skills to help them manage their symptoms and reduce their reactions to triggers.
TMS is a non-invasive procedure that uses magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells in the brain. TMS has been studied as a potential treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as it may help to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression associated with PTSD. TMS is delivered using a device that generates a magnetic field, which is then directed at specific areas of the brain thought to be involved in the regulation of mood and anxiety. The magnetic field induces an electrical current in the brain, which can stimulate nerve cells and change their activity.
Ketamine has been shown to have rapid antidepressant and anti-anxiety effects. The medication works by binding to a specific type of receptor in the brain called the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor. It is thought that by binding to this receptor, ketamine can change the way the brain processes traumatic memories and reduce the emotional distress associated with them.
Neurofeedback, also known as EEG biofeedback, is a type of therapy that uses real-time measurement and feedback of brain activity to help individuals learn to self-regulate their brain function. It has been studied as a potential treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as it may help to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression associated with PTSD. During neurofeedback, sensors are placed on the scalp to measure the electrical activity of the brain (EEG). This activity is then displayed on a computer screen in real-time, allowing the person to see their brain activity and learn to control it. For PTSD, neurofeedback typically focuses on training specific brainwave patterns, such as theta and alpha, which have been associated with relaxation and the regulation of emotions. By learning to regulate these patterns, the person may be able to reduce symptoms of PTSD.

Bespoke Treatment helps you overcome PTSD​

At Bespoke Treatment, we always begin with a comprehensive evaluation to learn about your symptoms, lifestyle, and overall health. Then, after we diagnose your condition and understand your needs, we create a personalized treatment plan to relieve your symptoms and help you manage your negative thoughts.

Our treatment plans can include a number of traditional therapies and group therapies, including EMDR, as well as treatment alternatives like TMS, ketamine, and neurofeedback.

If PTSD is disrupting your quality of life, call Bespoke Treatment or request a consultation online today.

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