Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental disorder that occurs after witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event, such as physical assault, natural disasters, war, sexual assault, violent accidents, and terrorist attacks. Symptoms may appear immediately after the event or may take weeks or months to develop. In some cases, symptoms do not emerge until years later.
Trauma-related symptoms may include:
- sleep disturbances
- avoidance behaviors
The severity of these symptoms can vary greatly among individuals. Some people with PTSD can function normally, while others struggle with severe problems. People who have experienced trauma often develop symptoms of depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and/or suicidal thoughts.
People with PTSD often have difficulty functioning at work, school, at home, or socially. They may avoid certain places or situations because they fear reminders of their traumatic experiences. People suffering from PTSD may feel numb, depressed, angry, guilty, ashamed, confused, anxious, or worthless.
Let’s explore 5 facts about PTSD to help you understand more about this mental health disorder and learn about the various treatment options available.
PTSD is common among the world’s population
The following statistics consider only the US population:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder is not just something that happens to soldiers who have been deployed overseas. In fact, according to the National Center for PTSD, approximately 6% of Americans suffer from PTSD at any given time. That means 1 out of 12 people experience PTSD symptoms at some point in their lives.
- Over 12 million adults experience PTSD each year. This is a very small percentage of people who have experienced trauma.
- Compared to roughly 4 of every 100 men (4%), about 8 out of every 100 women (8%) have PTSD at some point in their lives.
- According to the NCS-R, the lifetime prevalence rate of PTSD among US women was 5.2%, while men had a lower rate of 1.8%. The lifetime prevalence rate of PTSD among US adults is 6.8%.
- According to the CDC, suicide rates among veterans are twice as high as those in the general population. Veterans are four times more likely than civilians to commit suicide, with roughly 44 veterans committing suicide daily.
- Approximately 11% to 20% of veterans returning from war have PTSD.
The following statistics consider the world’s population:
- Trauma occurs in the lives of roughly 6 out of 10 males (60%) and 5 out of 10 women (50%).
- The likelihood of sexual assault and child sex abuse is higher for women.
- Men are more likely to be involved in accidents, physical assaults, war, natural disasters, or witness fatalities or injuries.
- Traumatic events can cause long-lasting changes in brain chemistry
The brain is made up of billions of nerve cells called neurons. These neurons communicate with each other through chemical messengers known as neurotransmitters. When we experience stressful events, our brains release chemicals into the bloodstream that travel throughout the body. This process is known as neuroendocrine activation.
Neurotransmitters released during neuroendocrine activation can change how our brains respond to future stressful events. For example, when we experience a traumatic event, our bodies release hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. Cortisol helps us cope with stress by increasing blood pressure and heart rate.
Adrenaline causes us to focus on the present moment and prepare for action. However, if we are repeatedly exposed to traumatic events, our brains become desensitized to these hormones. As a result, we may begin to experience symptoms of PTSD.
PTSD affects children
Post-traumatic stress disorder affects adults and children alike. Children who experience trauma may also develop symptoms as adults do. However, these symptoms tend to be less severe than those experienced by adults.
PTSD may be identified in children when long-term symptoms last for longer than a month. The National Child Traumatic Stress Network offers a guide to help parents and professionals differentiate between PTSD and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), which frequently have the same symptoms of restlessness, fidgetiness, difficulty focusing, and disorganization.
These symptoms can be treated effectively using cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT helps children learn how to cope with stressful situations and teaches them skills for managing emotions.
Children with PTSD should also be encouraged by their parents to share their thoughts and feelings without fear of judgment.
Not everyone has the same type of flashback experience
Flashbacks are one of the most well-known symptoms of PTSD. A flashback is a sensation that the painful event is happening again. Flashbacks from PTSD can be quite intense and make you feel the traumatic experience is real, with smells, visions, sounds, and more.
It’s frightening when the sensations are this strong. However, some people merely experience memories of flashbacks without having intense sensations associated with them, while others experience no flashbacks at all.
PTSD can appear in people who have not experienced trauma
Most people who suffer from PTSD were exposed to a traumatic event, such as an assault, war, or a serious accident. However, if a family member or a loved one of yours was hurt or passed away, you can also get PTSD.
Due to the events they encounter, it can also happen to first responders, including police officers, paramedics, and firefighters. PTSD can also develop in other medical professionals that treat trauma patients, such as psychologists and emergency room doctors.
Various treatment options for PTSD
There are many different types of innovative treatments for PTSD, including medication, psychotherapy, and exposure therapy. Medication includes selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which are typically Sertraline (Zoloft), Paroxetine (Paxil), Fluoxetine (Prozac), and Venlafaxine (Effexor).
Exposure therapy involves gradually exposing patients to their traumatic memories so that they can learn to tolerate them. During exposure therapy, therapists use guided imagery techniques to help patients confront their fears and anxieties.
In addition, patients are encouraged to practice relaxation exercises and breathing techniques to reduce physiological arousal. Studies show that exposure therapy is highly effective in treating PTSD.
Individual and group counseling
Individual counseling focuses on helping patients identify and understand their emotions and thoughts. Patients work closely with counselors who guide them through challenging situations. Group counseling provides support from peers and encourages socialization. Both types of treatment are essential for reducing psychological distress and improving the overall quality of life.
CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy)
CBT is a psychotherapy that focuses on changing maladaptive thought patterns and behaviors. It teaches patients to recognize and challenge irrational beliefs about themselves and others and encourages them to adopt healthier ways of thinking and behaving.
CBT is based on the idea that our thoughts influence our moods, behavior, and physiology and that we can change those things by altering our thoughts.
DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy)
DBT is a psychotherapeutic intervention to treat borderline personality disorder (BPD). BPD is characterized by emotional instability, impulsivity, self-harm, and suicidal tendencies. DBT includes three primary components:
- Dialectics: Dialectics is the study of opposites, particularly between opposing views and ideas.
- Mindfulness: Mindfulness is the awareness of present-moment experiences, both internal and external stimuli.
- Emotion regulation: Emotion regulation is the ability to control one’s own emotions and impulses.
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing)
EMDR is a psychosocial treatment that uses eye movements to desensitize and reprocess memories. It was developed by Francine Shapiro at Harvard University in 1979. EMDR works by helping patients focus on stressful memories while simultaneously moving their eyes back and forth across their field of vision. As they move their eyes, they are able to observe the memory from different perspectives, which helps them gain insight into the meaning behind the memory.
ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy)
ACT is a type of psychological therapy that emphasizes acceptance and commitment rather than trying to change unwanted thoughts and behaviors. It aims to teach patients to accept painful thoughts and feelings as normal reactions to difficult situations and to commit to doing what they need to improve their lives.
ACT differs from traditional therapies in its emphasis on accepting uncomfortable emotions and thoughts and committing to making changes to achieve personal goals.
EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique)
EFT is an acupressure technique that utilizes finger pressure along specific points on the body to release emotional pain. It was created by Gary Craig in 1980 and has been widely studied since then. A 2013 review published in Clinical Psychology Review found that EFT significantly reduced anxiety and depression among individuals with generalized social phobia.
Stellate Ganglion Block Injections (SGB shot PTSD)
Stellate Ganglion Block (SGB) injections target the amygdala, a region of the brain responsible for processing emotions. When activated, the amygdala causes us to feel fear and anxiety. In people exposed to trauma, the amygdala becomes overactive, causing them to experience symptoms similar to those experienced after experiencing a traumatic event. By activating the amygdala, SGB reduces its activity, reducing the intensity of the negative emotions associated with PTSD.
A board-certified doctor will inject a local anesthetic into the neck’s nerves. The injection procedure is quick, requiring about ten minutes, followed by 15 to 20 minutes of monitoring. The appointment in a surgery center or office will last about an hour.
Patients feel relief within days or weeks after receiving SGB treatment for PTSD. In addition, Stellate Ganglion Block injections are safe, with no known side effects associated with SGB injections.
Where do I find out more information about SGB therapy for PTSD?
At SGB Docs, our healthcare professionals have over 40 years of combined experience. We are a brother and sister duo working side-by-side, treating people living with PTSD. Contact us for more information regarding our Stellate Ganglion Block injections to start your journey in treating PTSD.