Tag Archives: PTSD

Tag Archives: PTSD


Understanding PTSD and treatment options

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health issue that can develop after witnessing or experiencing a life-threatening event such as combat, sexual assault, a natural disaster or a car accident. After such an experience, it may be hard at first to engage in normal daily activities, such as going back to work or school or socializing with friends and family.

While it’s perfectly normal to feel on edge, have disturbing memories or trouble sleeping after a traumatizing experience, most people will begin to feel better after about a month or a few weeks. If you’ve been through a traumatic experience that occurred many months ago and you’re still having trouble resuming a normal daily routine, it may be a sign that you are dealing with PTSD.

How does it feel to live with PTSD?

When you are living with unresolved, significant trauma the world around you feels unsafe. Upsetting memories may intrude on your thoughts, and you may find yourself avoiding things that are reminiscent of your trauma, even if they are things that you have enjoyed in the past.

There is no age factor related to PTSD. Anyone at any time may develop this condition after a severely traumatic experience. Professionals believe however that there are a number of factors that may increase the likelihood that someone develops PTSD.

Many of these factors are outside the realm of an individual’s control. As an example, going through an extremely intense or chronic trauma increases the risk of PTSD, as does being injured during the event. Studies show that PTSD is also more common after enduring certain types of trauma, such as sexual assault or combat.

What happens after the traumatic event occurs also influences the possible onset of PTSD. For example, increased stressors up the risk of PTSD, while familial and social support can decrease the risk.

What are the signs and symptoms of PTSD? 

Experts have outlined several basic signalers for PTSD symptoms, but each individual is likely to experience these in a unique manner depending on their own experience. It’s also important to note that while signs and symptoms most often begin after a traumatic event takes place, it’s also possible for them to appear years or months later, or come and go over a span of time. In general, if the following symptoms interfere with your work or home life, last longer than four weeks, or cause you great distress you may be experiencing PTSD.

  1.  Re-experiencing the event is one hallmark of PTSD. In this case, you may find unwanted memories of the trauma returning at any time, along with the sense of fear and shock you went through during the event. Examples of such symptoms include flashbacks in which you feel like
  2. Actively avoiding any situation that reminds you of the event, such as driving if you were in a car accident or if your military convoy was attacked. Likewise, you may avoid watching movies about earthquakes, tornados, etc. if you lived through a natural disaster.
  3. Experiencing triggers that prompt you to relive a traumatic event. Examples of a trigger include anything that you smell, see or hear which reminds you of the trauma, including the sound of a car backfiring, witnessing an accident or even news reports.
  4. Living in a constant state of hypervigilance. PTSD can result in large-scale changes in how you feel and think about yourself and others due to the traumatic event. For example, you may perceive the world as a dangerous place, and believe no one should be trusted. Or you may have negative feelings toward others which keep you from developing relationships. Also common is a constant feeling of tension or hypervigilance marked by anxiety, being on constant alert for danger and sudden anger. Being scared by loud noises, sleep disruption and trouble concentrating are other signs common to PTSD.

PTSD in Children 

For example, preschool-age children often become upset if their caregiver is not close by, act out their trauma through play, and may have trouble sleeping.

Children ages 7 to 11 may also act out their trauma through play, as well as through stories or drawings. Some may want to avoid school, while others may have trouble with schoolwork or socializing amongst peers. Additionally, nightmares can occur, along with increased aggression and irritability.

Up to the age of 18, symptoms in young people become more similar to those seen in adults. Signs include reckless behavior such as substance abuse or running away, anxiety, depression or emotional withdrawal.

Your symptoms of PTSD don’t have to interfere with your life

When individuals seek treatment for PTSD, “getting better” can mean different things for different people. Some people wish to get rid of all symptoms, while others find that having fewer or less intense symptoms is acceptable.

There are two broad types of treatment for unresolved trauma, psychotherapy and medication, with the two often combined at various stages of treatment.

Counseling or psychotherapy involves meeting with a therapist in order to explore and address your issue. There are specific trauma-focused therapies, all of which emphasize the memory of the traumatic event or its meaning. One such intervention is Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT). Using CPT, clients learn skills to better understand how trauma has subsequently influenced thoughts and feelings. One of the hallmarks of this intervention is the belief that changing how you think about the trauma can change how you feel.

Recovery is possible—recover your unique, purposeful, sober life by reaching out to the dedicated experts at Cumberland Heights.

Addiction is a chronic, progressive and potentially fatal disease. For over 50 years we have carefully provided the highest quality of care for adults, adolescents and families who suffer from, or are affected by this devastating disease.

Our nonprofit alcohol and drug addiction treatment center is located on a peaceful, pastoral 177-acre campus on the banks of the Cumberland River in Nashville, Tennessee. We provide a continuum of services through two 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes.

At Cumberland Heights, we always put the patient first, and value the importance of family participation in the recovery process. Take the first step toward healing by calling us at (866) 899-5231 today.

Woman working through trauma in addiction recovery Peter Levine, a clinical psychologist, once stated:

“The paradox of trauma is that it has the power to destroy and the power to transform and resurrect.”

As the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) indicates, 61% of men and 51% of women report having had exposure to a traumatic event at least once in their lifetime. The aftermath of trauma leaves many with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a disorder which can bring about debilitating symptoms like anxiety, depression, paranoia, insomnia, flashbacks, nightmares and more.

Several years ago, The Fix, a website that published information related to addiction recovery, sobriety and more, explained that even adverse childhood experiences can leave physical, psychological and spiritual wounds that can take an entire lifetime to recover from. Recovery from addiction is already a vulnerable time period, so how can a person heal from trauma, too?

Create a Support Network

Dr. Vincent Felitti, former chief of preventative medicine at Kaiser Permanente in San Diego, told The Fix,

“I would argue that the person using [drugs] is not using them to have a problem, they’re using drugs to find a solution.”

Social support is crucial before and after traumatic events, and some people feel isolated. This is when substance abuse can come into play – because a person is trying to find a way to lessen the intensity of emotions they’re experiencing. In recovery, healing can take place by doing the exact opposite: by reaching out to people, building connections and building their own sense of community. At Cumberland Heights, individuals can find support not only through their healthcare team and through peers in their group therapy sessions, but also through 12-Step program such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA).

In 2016, researchers published a study in the journal Substance Abuse Rehabilitation that examined the role of social support in addiction recovery. They found that peer support groups – such as those found in 12-Step programs – can greatly strengthen a person’s commitment and engagement in their treatment. Individuals find healing through this modality for many reasons:

  • They find that many others have gone through similar experiences and/or emotions
  • They rely on the structure of the program to walk them through recovery
  • They develop empathy for other peoples’ hardships as life lessons and experiences are shared

One of the most common feelings that trauma brings to those struggled with PTSD is that a person is alone, and that nobody will understand. Quite the opposite is true – there are many people who’ve gone through traumatic events, and there are people who want to see you heal and become stronger.

Practice Self-Care

Self-care has been a buzzword lately, but for good reason. Self-care is defined as,

“…The actions and attitudes which contribute to the maintenance of well-being and personal health and promote human development.”

The University of Notre Dame explains the many reactions that can come from trauma:

Psychological and Emotional

  • Feeling “numb”
  • Irritability, sadness, heightened anxiety, etc.
  • Feelings of “self-blame” that a person escaped the tragedy
  • Re-experiencing the traumatic event
  • Feelings of isolation from others
  • And more

Cognitive

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling confused

Physical

  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Easily startled
  • And more

Behavioral

  • Hyperactivity
  • Withdrawal from others
  • Insomnia
  • Strong need to talk about the event
  • And more

When a flood of PTSD symptoms come rushing through, it’s often hard to implement self-care. In recovery, however, this is a person’s chance to restore their mental, physical and spiritual health; self-care activities, such as practicing sleep hygiene, eating nutritious meals, drinking plenty of water and more can have a truly profound impact on the outlook of someone’s recovery, as it’s all interconnected.

Apply What You’ve Learned

Treatment provides a plethora of opportunities to not only connect with others, but to develop some meaningful perspectives and tools that can be used when needed. Symptoms of PTSD occur unexpectedly for many people, and, without warning, a person may easily feel taken over. Psychological approaches such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) set the foundation for a person to be able to combat negative thoughts and beliefs with the reality. Here is an example:

Beth was in group therapy when she suddenly felt upset. She had been triggered by what someone said, and it reminded her of a traumatic event she experienced when she was a child. The minute that thought started bringing up physiological reactions, she took a deep breath.

“I can use what I learned in therapy,” she stated.

Rather than allowing the thought and emotion to take over, she reminded herself that she is safe. She told herself that she’s not in that moment, and that’s she’s much stronger now. She looked around her and noticed her peers talking. She grounded herself by planting her feet on the ground, and she reminded herself that one of her peers just shared their own personal story. That was it.

In moment like these, the tools learned in therapy can be of great benefit for healing from trauma, simply because they help us focus on what’s most important rather than what might bring us down. If you’re ready to heal from trauma and regain balance from addiction, speak with a professional from Cumberland Heights today.

Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug-addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland river in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of 2 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.

Woman seeking trauma informed care during addiction recoveryAfter experiencing a dangerous or upsetting event, it’s natural to feel anxious, sad or in shock. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is characterized by nightmares, paranoia, anger, irritability, depression and so many other symptoms that can appear after traumatic events, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services notes that women are twice as likely to develop PTSD as men to develop it in their lifetimes. The American Psychological Association (APA) notes that women who struggle with PTSD often experience troubles in their intimate relationships, sleeping disturbances, suicidal behaviors, loss of trust and more. Unfortunately, many survivors of trauma wait years to seek help – and that’s why trauma informed care is critical for women in addiction recovery.

When someone walks through the front doors for treatment, they come with a wide array of knowledge, experiences, thoughts, emotions and more. The International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies reports that one-quarter to three-quarters of people who have survived abusive or violent traumatic events go on to report problematic alcohol use, and women exposed to traumatic events report a higher rate of increased risk for alcohol use disorder (AUD). Since PTSD may still be lingering when a person seeks treatment for a substance use disorder (SUD), it’s crucial for trained professionals to have a thorough understanding of trauma and what a client needs during these times. It can make a huge difference, such as:

  • The difference between what one client needs over another
  • Understanding when grief needs to take place
  • Helping a client identify some of the underlying beliefs that developed from their traumatic experiences
  • Coping mechanisms and ways of healing from traumatic events

For some women, substances have been the only way to seemingly “drown out” the pain experienced from PTSD. Symptoms of this disorder, along with stress and anxiety from other life situations, can make it hard to cope – especially when there are little resources to work with. Trauma informed care ensures that those in recovery are considered for all they’ve been through – through this, a person can receive the most personalized care possible.

Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug-addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland river in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of 2 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.

PTSD and Alcoholism: A Common Co-Occurring Disorder

When we’re faced with a traumatic event, stress kicks in – and there’s no doubt that as our fear response becomes more present than ever, our entire system can be affected – even long after the event has occurred. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a serious condition that impacts around 13 million people in the United States each year. Characterized by nightmares, paranoia, anxiety, depression, anger and more, PTSD can be debilitating. For those who don’t seek help, the stress and exhaustion can eventually catch up – and with seemingly little ways to turn, substance abuse often becomes a coping mechanism.

Alcohol has been widely promoted in our society as a way to have fun, relax and forget about stressors. The term, “self-medication”, is used when a person is trying to manage their emotional upsets by drinking or using drugs – alcohol, for instance, can mask some of the painful symptoms of PTSD by causing a person to become more relaxed. Even though it may feel like a few drinks helps lessen that anxiety or other symptom, however, it’s only temporary – and the symptoms of PTSD will reappear. In other cases, alcohol can worsen the symptoms – which makes it all the more difficult to manage.

Last year, researchers conducted a study regarding PTSD and alcoholism that was published in The Journal of Psychiatry and Neurological Sciences. They wanted to know how anxiety, depression and PTSD symptoms as a whole were associated to alcoholism, and they found that while anxiety and depression severity did have an impact on alcohol-related issues, PTSD symptoms were the most significant predictor. These types of co-morbidity (also known as dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorders) can be even more debilitating for a person, as they now must deal with the symptoms of PTSD and fulfill the never-ending demands of addiction.

Despite the fact that PTSD and alcoholism is a common occurrence, there is so much help available – making recovery more possible than ever before. It’s a hard reality to face, but the symptoms of PTSD won’t go away unless you work through the pain you’re experiencing and find a ground for healing. After a traumatic event, grief and sadness should be felt – but after some time has gone by, it’s important to move forward and find strength again.  Resilience is crucial to build after a devastating event, because you still deserve to have a happy, healthy, fulfilling life.

Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug-addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland river in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-campus, we are made up of 2 twelve-step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.

Call us today at 1-800-646-9998 to take the next step towards your happiness and health.


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