Posttraumatic Stress Disorder


What is Posttraumatic Stress Disorder?

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Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a potentially debilitating mental health disorder that results from a learned or experienced trauma. The anxiety could be caused by a range of stressful encounters such as a natural disaster, combat, threats of violence, or a significant accident.

The effects of PTSD tend to last longer than the “normal” symptoms that occur and diminish following a stressful experience. PTSD extends beyond mere days and weeks and also begins to affect all areas of life, from school and work to relationships with friends and family.

PTSD is the modern term for what was commonly known as “shell shock” in WWI and “combat fatigue” in WWII. However, it should be noted that PTSD does not affect military personnel only. Anyone – from child to adult – can develop PTSD. It is not uncommon to find PTSD in first responders – firefighters, police, and EMTs – who often find themselves in positions of extreme crisis and critical circumstances where lives are on the line.

We must note that PTSD is not a sign of weakness or a flaw in character. It is a serious disorder resulting from stressful situations that can have a devastating effect on both individuals and their families. PTSD can be treated successfully, however; and we look forward to helping you and your loved ones through the healing process.

Who Develops Posttraumatic Stress Disorder?

As noted above, anyone can develop PTSD. About 3.5 percent of adults in the U.S. are dealing with the condition. It is estimated that one in 11 people will be affected with PSTD at some point in their lives. While PSTD certainly does afflict military veterans, the condition extends to others as well. For example, many first responders were faced with crisis situations during the COVID-19 pandemic and resulted in PTSD diagnoses.

While both males and females can develop PTSD, females are more likely to be affected. This discrepancy may result from traumas suffered by girls, and these disturbing experiences at young ages may play into their brain development as they mature.

Studies in the UK have revealed that one in three people facing significant traumatic experiences will develop PTSD after that event. The likelihood of PSTD can be increased with certain risk factors including:

  • Additional or repeated exposure to the traumatic event
  • A previous diagnosis of a mental health disorder
  • Lack of support following the experience

What Causes PTSD?

Our brains are complicated organs that are responsible for many complex operations. One of these functions is dealing with trauma. Many suffering from PTSD have a dysfunction in the hippocampus section of the brain, which plays a role in processing trauma in a healthy way. High levels of stress hormones may also factor into a person’s developing PTSD. Some of the situations that can lead to PTSD include:

  • Abuse or neglect, especially in children
  • Rape or other form of sexual assault
  • Military combat
  • Automobile or motorcycle accidents (as victim or witness)
  • Natural disasters
  • Diagnosis of a life-altering condition or terminal illness
  • Exposure to terrorism and other forms of violence

It is not uncommon for PTSD to develop alongside other mental health disorders such as:

  • Anxiety and depression
  • Chemical addictions
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Psychotic and other cognitive disorders

What Symptoms Accompany Posttraumatic Stress Disorder?

PTSD produces a wide array of symptoms beyond the stereotypical “flashback” episodes portrayed on TV and in film. Sometimes these symptoms can begin immediately; other times they may develop after weeks or even months following the traumatic experience. Unfortunately, any of these obstacles can become debilitating for the individual, with repercussions on family, work, and other life functions. The following PTSD symptoms can range from mild to extreme:

  • Intrusive thoughts, often about the traumatic experience
  • Painful memories
  • Mood swings from numb to anxious to hopeless
  • Inordinate guilt and shame
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Thoughts of self-harm or suicide
  • Self-destructive behavior
  • Withdrawal from social activities
  • Substance abuse
  • Increased anxiety / easily alarmed
  • Panic attacks


How Can I Get Treatment for PSTD?

There are a number of therapies that can successfully reduce or eliminate PTSD symptoms as well as restore proper brain function. It is important to remember that PTSD is a malfunction in the brain, not a character flaw or a sign of weakness.

At Bridgepoint, once we make a diagnosis of PSTD, we develop a treatment plan that addresses the specific needs of each patient. The techniques and methods that we employ are proven and based in rigorous study. These forms of therapy may include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy – we will work through the trauma and your symptoms to re-train your behavioral responses to the experience.
  • Exposure therapy – we help you deal with the trauma in a safe manner to allow your brain to process the event in a healthy way.
  • Group therapy – we connect you with others dealing with similar experiences to discuss and process the traumatic experience in a safe and non-confrontational setting.
  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy – using rapid eye movements along with memories of the event, we unlock brain function that helps re-program your ability to process the experience in a proper way.


How Do I Start Healing from Posttraumatic Stress Disorder?

The first step toward healing from your PSTD is to take productive action. If you, or a loved one, experience the symptoms of PSTD and find that your life is difficult because of an experience in your past, we encourage you to contact us today. Our professional staff is accustomed to the sensitive needs required to address PTSD and its effect on people.

We at Bridgepoint look forward to helping you renew a healthy life with the ability to overcome the challenges of your traumatic experience. You can succeed, and we look forward to being a part of your healthy restoration.

Visit Our Resources Page

Bridgepoint encourages clinicians, patients, and their loved ones to research new methodologies and techniques to improve mental health and wellbeing. To assist with your own learning, we’ve put together a variety of resources on a variety of topics – including genomics – to help you on your mental health journey.

posttraumatic stress disorder