Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can leave you feeling lost in everyday life. The trauma you feel can cause you to avoid certain triggers or cope in damaging ways. The P.A.T.H. program offers treatment structured to teach you or your loved one about trauma triggers in the outside world and healthy coping skills to manage trauma responses.
What Is Trauma?
We are all unique human beings with different backgrounds, experiences, upbringings, and current life situations. Trauma, by definition, is a situation that has caused so much pain, emotionally or physically, that it forces you to flinch away from it, preventing you from overcoming the thought and pain.
It’s natural to have strong emotional reactions to traumatic events. Some events cause us to experience trauma briefly and recover within a few days to a few weeks. However, some of us experience a more complicated reaction. This is called post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD.
Events that can cause trauma reactions include:
- Physical or sexual assault
- Being a victim of domestic violence
- Emotional or physical neglect or abuse
- Taking part in military combat
- Living through war or a natural disaster
- Having a life-threatening illness or injury
Understanding Trauma and PTSD
PTSD is not always the outcome of a traumatic event. But it is much more common than most people realize. The National Institute of Mental Health states that 7% to 8% of people develop PTSD in their lives.
We all react to trauma differently. Some of us become irritable, angry, anxious or depressed when talking or even thinking of the traumatic event. Others push their emotions about the event into their subconscious. Some even turn to alcohol or drug abuse, while others’ reaction to trauma develops into PTSD.
We don’t fully understand why people’s reactions are so different when it comes to trauma.
Research shows that some people are more stress-resistant. That means they can better cope with the stress of living through trauma. This might be for biological reasons or because they have learned effective ways of coping with stress. Most likely, it’s a combination of both.
PTSD, however, can be a combination of things. Neurobiology research has provided some clues about how people who experience PTSD are thought to be overwhelmed with stress-induced changes in brain chemistry and brain structure. In a stress response, the brain produces cortisol and norepinephrine chemicals. In a traumatic event, these chemicals flood the brain. This is thought to lead to long-term changes in how someone responds to these chemicals. These changes are what cause the symptoms of PTSD.
Most people who live through a traumatic event experience some form of acute stress disorder. However, not everyone goes on to develop PTSD. People are more vulnerable to PTSD if they don’t receive specialized support after experiencing a traumatic event.
Acute Stress Disorder
This is a kind of trauma response that people have soon after a traumatic event. Generally, this includes events like a car accident, natural disaster, physical or sexual assault or diagnoses of a life-threatening illness. Acute stress disorder is usually a short-term condition, with those who experience it making a full recovery. Some common symptoms include:
- Flashbacks or intrusive thoughts about the event
- Intense or prolonged distress in response to trauma triggers
- A persistent negative mood and inability to have positive emotions
- Recurring nightmares about the event
- Unable to remember details about the trauma
- You try to avoid thinking about or remembering the trauma
- You make significant efforts to avoid anything that might trigger trauma memories
- Irritable or angry, or shows physical or verbal aggression
- Dissociative episodes which involve reliving the event
- Insomnia and/or sleep disturbances
- Difficulty concentrating
- An exaggerated startle response
What Is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?
The type of trauma someone experiences doesn’t necessarily correlate with their risk of PTSD. Even just witnessing trauma can be as traumatic as actually experiencing it and can trigger the disorder. More rarely, hearing about a loved one’s traumatic experience can cause PTSD.
To be diagnosed with PTSD, a person must have symptoms from each of the four different categories. The symptoms must last for at least one month and cause significant distress or disruption in your daily life.
The categories include:
- Re-experiencing symptoms: Nightmares, flashbacks or intrusive thoughts about the trauma.
- Avoidance symptoms: Avoiding things triggers memories or thoughts about the trauma.
- Cognitive and mood symptoms: May include depression, anxiety or memory loss. Some people may feel guilt or shame or blame themselves for what happened to them.
- Arousal and reactivity symptoms: May include hypervigilance, a state in which someone is constantly alert and on the lookout for danger. Other symptoms include tension, irritability, and insomnia.
What About Complex PTSD?
Complex PTSD is a subtype of PTSD that some people develop if they experience ongoing trauma. Someone who is the victim of ongoing abuse as a child may develop complex PTSD, which can then develop into an adult victim of domestic abuse. Someone who experiences human trafficking or who lives in a region affected by war is also at risk of complex PTSD.
People with complex PTSD have other kinds of symptoms besides the common PTSD symptoms. They include:
- Difficulty regulating emotions
- Dissociative episodes (mentally disconnecting from surroundings)
- Feelings of despair and helplessness
- Social isolation due to significant distrust of others
- Fixation on whoever is responsible for their trauma
These symptoms are directly related to the fact that the trauma is ongoing rather than a one-time event. Take dissociation, for example. When someone, especially a child, experiences ongoing sexual abuse, they may start to dissociate mentally. This can take many forms, such as spacing out or even perceiving themselves outside their bodies. This is the mind’s way of removing themselves from a horrific situation they can’t otherwise escape.
What PTSD Treatment Like?
Treatment for PTSD focuses on trauma-informed therapy to explore and process traumatic events. Some people also benefit from medication, such as antidepressants or mood stabilizers.
The treatment process can involve multiple stages of peeling away the layers of trauma. This all depends on your needs and any co-occurring conditions. But what does PTSD and trauma treatment look like in the P.A.T.H program?
Outpatient Treatment Programs
The P.A.T.H. programming offers a level of care that helps clients maintain a life outside of treatment. Our in-person or virtual outpatient addiction and mental health treatment options are an excellent step-down or step-up approach, depending on where you are in your recovery.
There are two kinds of outpatient programs: partial hospitalization (PHP) and intensive outpatient.
- Partial hospitalization: In a PHP, clients spend five days a week at a treatment center. It’s similar in content and focuses to a residential program, but clients don’t live at the center. Instead, they spend nights and weekends at their own home.
- Intensive outpatient: These programs involve spending around 10 hours a week at a treatment center for therapy and support activities.
All P.A.T.H. Centers of Excellence make it easy to get the best care that fits your individual needs. With walk-in needs assessments, in-person and telehealth outpatient services, we have created programming that helps you work through your trauma and still maintain everyday life obligations.
Up to 80% of people with PTSD have a co-occurring disorder. This might be a substance abuse disorder, using drugs or alcohol, or a mood disorder such as anxiety or depression. For people with PTSD, self-destructive behavior is a way of numbing the emotional pain caused by the trauma.
If you think you are experiencing PTSD and a co-occurring disorder, it’s crucial to receive treatment for both at the same time. This ensures you get to the root of your trauma and helps you progress in your recovery.
PTSD Treatment with P.A.T.H.
In treatment, you’ll have access to therapy models that will help break through the layers of trauma and educate you on healthy coping skills. These are designed and backed by science to help you get back to being your most authentic self. Your customized treatment plan could include some of the following activities:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Dialectical behavioral therapy
- Acceptance and commitment therapy
- Trauma recovery and empowerment model
- Co-Occurring disorders program
- Nutrition education
- Experiential groups (for individuals and families)
PTSD is a diagnosis included in the DSM-5. As such, Marketplace insurance plans through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) should provide coverage for evidence-based treatment, including therapy and medication. Veterans have the option of finding insurance via the VA.
Employers aren’t required by law to provide insurance coverage for mental health treatment, but most employer plans cover mental health care.
At P.A.T.H., we partner with multiple insurance providers to help get you the help you need at the right cost. We offer in-network treatment for clients with preferred provider organization insurance plans. In some cases, we can provide out-of-network options.
Call any time, and one of our recovery specialists can help you navigate the insurance process. We offer free insurance eligibility checks, work out what benefits you can access and maximize your available coverage. If you choose one of our P.A.T.H Centers of Excellence, we’ll handle the entire process for you from start to finish. Your only job is to focus on healing.
We Can Help You. Are You Ready?
You can’t control the traumatic events you’ve faced, but you can make a choice right now to seek treatment. Your recovery might be just around the corner.
If you’re struggling to manage your trauma, call us today at 713.528.3709. We provide the trauma and PTSD treatment that may be the key to helping you move forward.