Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, has received a lot of attention in the media. The condition is frequently shown on movies and TV, but what is PTSD in real life?
PTSD is a mental health condition in which people experience flashbacks, anxiety, nightmares, and repetitive, intrusive thoughts about the traumatic event they experienced or witnessed. According to the National Center for PTSD, approximately 60% of men and 50% of women experience trauma at least once in their lifetime. The amount of people who go on to develop PTSD from those traumas is comparatively small – only 7 to 8 percent – but those affected individuals could assert that PTSD is a misunderstood, difficult condition that severely interferes with the quality of their lives.
If you or someone you love has experienced trauma, or is currently suffering from PTSD, it’s important to know how it affects an individual and how it develops. Read on to learn more about the stages of PTSD as the mental health condition is treated.
1. Impact or “Emergency” Stage
This phase occurs immediately after the traumatic event. At this point, the affected individual is struggling to come to terms with the shock of what happened. He or she will be highly anxious, hypervigilant, and possibly struggling with guilt. Media depictions of PTSD largely feature characters who are suffering from this stage of PTSD. War veterans and abuse survivors – who have just come back from battle or are in a police station immediately after an attack – often come to mind.
What the media frequently does not show us, though, is that when treated by a mental health professional, the presentation of PTSD will change as the patient begins to recover.
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2. Denial Stage
Not everybody experiences denial when dealing with PTSD recovery. Individuals who do will continue to experience strong feelings brought on by memories of the traumatic event, but they will attempt, either consciously or unconsciously, to avoid the difficult emotions. Those who are prone to using alcohol or other substances will be especially vulnerable to numbing behavior at this stage.
3. Short-term Recovery Stage
During this phase, immediate solutions to problems are addressed. The individual with PTSD will attempt to adjust to everyday life and return to a sense of normalcy. This stage can go both ways: individuals will either continue to accept help from others or they will become disillusioned and somewhat cynical. At this stage, nightmares and intrusive thoughts continue and make everyday life difficult.
4. Long-term Recovery Stage
As the name implies, the individual will continue to deal with the after-effects of their trauma, such as anxiety and nightmares. However, with treatment, these negative symptoms can be reduced and eventually completely overcome. With constant support from professionals, family, and friends, people with PTSD can expect to return to a calmer, fuller life on the other side.
Mental health, while often difficult to discuss with friends and loved ones, is nothing to be ashamed of. Seeking help for your PTSD will be difficult but necessary to your quality of life: if it’s not treated now, it could become a bigger problem.
Get Help For PTSD
Pyramid Family Behavioral Healthcare’s therapists and clinicians are trained to help individuals suffering from PTSD recover and begin to reclaim their lives. We can work with you using evidence-based treatment techniques and programs to help manage your PTSD symptoms and develop healthy coping mechanisms. Contact us today to learn more about our PTSD treatment programs and start your recovery.