About 70% of adults in the U.S. will experience post-traumatic stress disorder at some point in their lives, according to the National Center for PTSD, and some will need to seek professional treatment for it. Women are twice as likely to develop PTSD after a distressing event, according to the American Psychological Association (APA). They are also unlikely to seek treatment for it.
There are South Florida programs available at various facilities that are designed to help people get the help they need. Many people find they are unable to move on with their lives until they receive the care they need for PTSD. Recurring PTSD symptoms can be treated with medication and psychotherapy, as these are effective.
How PTSD Manifests in Everyday Life
PTSD is often associated with active or retired members of the military, but anyone can experience the psychiatric disorder. PTSD can develop after a person experiences or witnesses a distressing or life-threatening event that traumatized them. Coping with the aftermath of such events can be difficult for many people, causing them to struggle in daily life.
Various events fall in the category of non-war-related PTSD, such as
- Natural disasters
- Violence (e.g., mass shootings)
- Abuse of any kind (e.g., child abuse, sexual abuse, domestic abuse)
- Terrorist attacks
- Serious accidents
- Sexual assault, rape
Sometimes, PTSD occurs from events that are less extreme, such as:
- Ending a relationship (e.g., divorce)
- Losing a job
- Having a miscarriage
- Losing a loved one
- Serious illnesses
- Intrusive medical procedures
It is normal to experience adverse feelings or trauma after these events, no matter where they fall on the spectrum. The usual trauma response usually lasts anywhere from a few days to a few months. However, when emotional and psychological trauma responses last for long periods after the event and cause someone to feel like they are trapped or stuck, then it’s time to take a closer look at what’s going on.
It has been documented that trauma can rewire how a person’s brain perceives and responds to a threat. When a person’s response is stuck in a loop, it can leave a person in a heightened state of alert, often draining the person of their energy and focus and making them feel anxious and upset.
A person with PTSD is unable to move past what happened and can experience adverse symptoms as a result.
Symptoms of PTSD
If you are unsure that PTSD is the case, there are ways to tell. The symptoms listed below usually happen to people who are coping with post-traumatic stress:
- Insomnia or other sleep disturbances
- Fear, anxiety
- Angry outbursts
- Avoiding any place or thing that triggers memories of the event
- Constantly feeling on edge, sad, or helpless
- Mental fog (forgetting about key details of the event)
- Negative feelings, thoughts about oneself
- Guilt or feelings of blame
- Inability to trust people
- Feeling unable to enjoy life
These symptoms can happen immediately after the distressing event, or they can appear months or even years later after an event. Someone with PTSD may also notice that symptoms may have worsened over time gradually.
Finding PTSD Treatment in South Florida
Getting professional treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder is necessary if the person cannot find healthy ways to cope with the aftermath of an event. It is dangerous to ignore the disorder or avoid treatment for it. Those who do may go on to harm themselves further by turning to unhealthy methods to deal with their PTSD.
This can include turning to drugs and alcohol to self-medicate against the debilitating symptoms of anxiety and depression that can come about. This can lead to a person developing a substance use disorder that can put their physical, mental, and emotional health in danger. Some may even turn to self-harm or suicide.
Professional therapy for PTSD is available at facilities throughout Florida. Some places offer treatment in an outpatient program where patients receive a certain number of hours of therapy a week before returning home. For people who have more severe cases of PTSD or have PTSD along with another disorder, such as a substance use disorder, some facilities offer inpatient or residential treatment. This kind of program allows the person to stay onsite at the facility for a longer time to focus on their mental health needs.
PTSD treatment at South Florida facilities will include various therapies designed to help the person overcome and/or manage their symptoms. The therapies used depend largely on the person and their unique needs. But, in general, therapies used to treat the disorder include:
Cognitive processing therapy (CPT): This treatment therapy usually follows a format of weekly sessions that last an hour to an hour and a half over a 12-week period. A mental health professional guides patients in talking about a traumatic event and how thoughts associated with the event have affected their lives.
One goal of CPT is to help patients make the connection between their thoughts and how they feel and identify those that are contributing to their PTSD symptoms. Patients may be then asked to write a detailed account of what happened so that they can connect with their thoughts and feelings instead of avoiding them. EMDR also helps them replace those thoughts and feelings with healthy thinking.
Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR): This form of therapy shares similar goals with CPT, and that is to help patients get out of the loop of traumatic memories and reframe how they see the negative event. This psychotherapy was initially developed to treat post-traumatic stress disorder.
During a 60 to 90-minute session, the therapist will talk with the patient as they revisit a traumatic experience or negative emotions. As the patient reprocesses a memory for a short period, they will focus on unrelated physical or auditory stimuli, such as a flashing light, a moving hand, or a sound. This process aims to help the brain make new connections while the patient is focused on the memories and emotions that are made when concentrating on the stimuli.
Prolonged exposure therapy (PE): This therapy helps patients face distressing memories, emotions related to a traumatic event head-on. Per the APA, PE teaches them how to do this gradually over time. “By facing what has been avoided, a person can decrease symptoms of PTSD by actively learning that the trauma-related memories and cues are not dangerous and do not need to be avoided,” the APA writes. A person may need eight to 15 sessions that last up to 120 minutes for this therapy, depending on the person.
Medications Can Be Prescribed for PTSD
Some people who have PTSD may be prescribed medications to help them cope with the disorder. These are used in conjunction with the therapies they receive. PTSD patients may be prescribed antidepressants to help them manage PTSD over the long term. Per the National Center for PTSD, there are four antidepressants that are recommended for PTSD treatment:
- Sertraline (Zoloft)
- Paroxetine (Paxil)
- Fluoxetine (Prozac)
- Venlafaxine (Effexor)
If benzodiazepines are prescribed to a person with PTSD, the drugs likely will be used during a short-term treatment, usually no more than two weeks. Benzodiazepines are highly addictive, habit-forming drugs that even people with legitimate prescriptions can become dependent on, so they must be used under a doctor’s care.
A physician may prescribe other medications to a PTSD patient to help with other conditions that are unique to their situation. If you are receiving medications for PTSD treatment, make sure to keep your doctor informed of any side effects or changes you notice. If you do notice changes, do not abruptly stop using the drug. Doing so could cause an adverse reaction and affect your body negatively.
Vista Pines Health Treats PTSD
Vista Pines Health, located in Pembroke Pines, helps people in the South Florida area who are struggling with PTSD and other mental health disorders. Our 20-bed facility offers private, comfortable accommodations for people who require residential care to address their challenges with post-traumatic stress disorder in a 24-hour setting.
Our low clinician-to-client ratio allows our clients to receive the personalized attention they deserve from our professional staff. You are not just another number here. We take your needs and personal medical and mental health history into consideration as we design a recovery program for you. The length of your treatment program will depend on several factors, including the severity of your condition.
Vista Pines combines psychotherapy and medication therapy and uses evidence-based practices to help our clients. Some individuals may receive life skills education to reorient them to handle everyday tasks.
If you have PTSD and a substance use disorder (SUD), we offer dual diagnosis treatment that allows you to treat both conditions at the same time. Vista Pines is in partnership with an affiliate facility that offers treatment for substance abuse. People who have comorbid disorders should receive treatment that addresses both disorders together so the individual working through them can have the best chance of recovery.
Give us a call today so that we can learn more about your situation and how we can help you. PTSD is treatable, and we can help you move past the trauma and find peace of mind again.