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Signs and Symptoms of PTSD

We are going through a very unique period of time in the history of human kind. Every single person who has stood on earth within the past 18 months has gone through the huge stressor of the COVID-19 pandemic, and many are wondering if they have developed, or if their loved ones have developed PTSD. 

PTSD stands for post-traumatic stress disorder, and it is a mental health condition that is characterized by re-living traumatic events that are terrifying to the person—either through nightmares, flashbacks or both. Those with PTSD may also experience avoidance of people, places or situations that may remind of them of the event, as well as changes to their personality—becoming more irritable, reckless, having problems with concentration and being easily startled. It is common that people won’t remember part of the traumatic experience.

An estimated 6.8% of adults have PTSD in the United States, and about 5% of adolescents, so this is an illness that is more common than most people think.  

How Do You Know If You or A Loved One Has PTSD? 

If you or a loved one have: 

•    Experienced, witnessed or heard of a traumatic event in which there was a severe threat to life or well-being.

•    Had exposure to repeated traumatic events and have nightmares related to the event.

•    Episodes in which you feel like you are re-experiencing the event.

•    Changes in personality, such as becoming more irritable, having a hard time focusing and struggling with sleep.

I would recommend bringing any of these or other symptoms you might be experiencing to the attention of your primary healthcare provider, as there is help available.

How Is PTSD Treated?

Cognitive behavioral therapy is the gold standard therapy for treatment of PTSD, but there are several other types of therapy that people find helpful, including exposure therapy, EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) and other trauma therapy. There are also medications that can help with PTSD, including antidepressants and certain blood pressure medications that can assist with nightmares related to PTSD.

We have an excellent team of doctors and nurse practitioners at Overlake Psychiatry, where we offer a wide variety of services—from outpatient medication management and therapy to inpatient crisis stabilization in the behavioral health unit, with partial hospitalization in between, for patients who are struggling but do not require hospitalization. Please reach out to your healthcare provider if you believe we could be of help.

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