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Identify and Resolve PTSD Symptoms with Therapy


Identify and Resolve PTSD Symptoms with Therapy


There are so many reasons to celebrate our lives and the world we live in. Unfortunately, for a person with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the meaning may sound empty as they try to navigate through life with dreadful trauma and extreme fear.

PTSD is an emotional condition diagnosed as severe anxiety. Its signs and symptoms can destabilize your sense of security, intensifying a fear from a past tragic or traumatic experience; long after the actual event that caused it.  It can stand in the way of a fulfilling life and prevent you from achieving your goals. The symptoms deserve attention because they likely will not go away without treatment.

The symptoms may prevent you from enjoying life’s simplest pleasures, but you are not alone. According to statistics offered by Healing My PTSD, there are about 31.3 million people in the United States who are suffering or experiencing the symptoms of PTSD.  While it has no known cure yet, the symptoms can be eased with therapy. With professional help, you can get back to the happy and productive life you deserve.


Understanding Trauma and PTSD

Trauma is an experience that can be described as deeply disturbing and emotionally painful. According to Judith Herman of Trauma and Recovery, “Traumatic events are extraordinary, not because they occur rarely, but rather because they overwhelm the ordinary human adaptations to life.”  It can be brought about by a single, painful experience, such as a natural calamity, physical assault, or accident that can put a deep dent permanently in your life. It can also be a result of a prolonged exposure to violence and abuse – war, childhood neglect, oppression and even discrimination. 

Regardless of whether it is triggered by a violent or subtle cause, or if you are a direct victim or a mere witness, a trauma can potentially deactivate your abilities to adjust to life changes and challenges. When this happens, PTSD is a real risk that may weigh you down in the years to come.

PTSD has been first used to describe the symptoms of war veterans. Much of the PTSD concept is influenced by the symptoms exhibited by the Vietnam War military survivors. It was officially established as a diagnosis in 1980 after it was included in the DSM-III or the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 3d ed. In the revised DSM-5, the “Diagnostic criteria for PTSD include a history of exposure to a traumatic event that meets specific stipulations and symptoms from each of four symptom clusters: intrusion, avoidance, negative alterations in cognitions and mood, and alterations in arousal and reactivity.”


The Signs and Symptoms to Watch Out For

PTSD is considered a severe form of anxiety. If you are weighed down by this emotional condition, your “fight or flight” system may have been damaged, so that you experience its signs, even in the absence of a real danger or emergency.  According to the Calm Clinic, the signs include rapid heartbeat, sweating, sudden surge of energy, hyperventilation, tingling or cold limbs, difficulty focusing or thinking, and dilated pupils.

The fight or flight response is a functional biological mechanism that enables you to react fast in the face of a life-endangering situation.  It can, however, be unhealthy as the uncontrolled response system overwhelms your nervous system. The symptoms include re-experiencing the trauma, in the form of flashbacks, disturbing memories, and bad dreams. It may cause you to avoid situations, activities or places that can remind you of your harrowing experience. It may also trigger amplified emotional arousal, heightening your anxiety symptoms, so that you are jittery and tired most of the time.

The signs and symptoms of PTSD may not appear immediately after the trauma, it can occur much later; weeks, months, or even years.  If you child has been exposed to a trauma, it is important to know that their symptoms could be different from adults. They may become withdrawn or act out their fears in unusual ways. They may also complain of aches, and some children may release their energy and anxiety in disruptive behavior.


The Science Behind PTSD

Losing yourself to PTSD is a real possibility.  A staggering 223.4 million people in America have lived through a traumatic experience of some kind. Not everyone slips into anxiety afterwards, but around 20 percent of them may battle with PTSD.  You may wonder, why are you a part of the 20 percent and not among those who escapes its grasp?

There is no straightforward answer as to why. The Defense Center of Excellence explains that there are three main brain parts involved in the science behind PTSD – amygdala, hippocampus and prefrontal cortex. The amygdala “is the stress evaluator” that screens situations for threats and decides when to respond.  The hippocampus “stores and retrieves memories.” The prefrontal cortex is the “executive-functioning area responsible for rational thought and decision making.”

In the face of a trauma, the hippocampus reacts by calming the stress center – the amygdala. When this mechanism fails, it can wreak havoc on the hippocampus, diminishing its ability to calm the amygdala. When the nerve connections between these three brain parts are not functioning as they should, the reminders can be constantly alive because they can’t be stored properly. Meanwhile, the prefrontal cortex can’t make the right decisions because of the influx of wrong or unreal “stimuli.”

A trauma can correspondingly over-stimulate the amygdala, keeping the adrenaline level high. Too much adrenaline can also stop the hippocampus from processing and storing memories, so they keep on coming back as bad dreams or flashbacks.  Though the mechanism can be a biologically valuable adaptation in the face of real dangers, when the risk is nonexistent, it can make you experience the symptoms of PTSD.


Counseling: The Help That Matters

PTSD can be a debilitating emotional condition that can affect you for life. Like other chronic ailments, the condition may not be cured, but the symptoms can be reduced and resolved, enabling you to restore your functioning.  While overcoming a trauma may not be easy, there are therapy and treatment approaches that can improve the outcome of your emotional burden. Regardless of the treatment option you may choose, it can be very productive to combine it with counseling or therapy in the hands of an independent therapist contracted with Carolina Counseling Services — Cameron, NC – on Hwy 87, near Linden Oaks.

Therapy can help diminish the intensity of the PTSD symptoms. There are tools that you can use to live with the milder symptoms. Your therapist can similarly assist you in sorting out the related issues that may arise in your life, so you can rebuild your relationships, plans, and future goals.  More importantly, therapy can prevent the worsening of your symptoms that can lead to depression, addiction and other harmful behaviors. Seeing an independent therapist independently contracted with Carolina Counseling Services — Cameron, NC – on Hwy 87, near Linden Oaks, may not cure your PTSD, but you have an excellent opportunity to resolve the symptoms. 

PTSD could be a heartbreaking emotional issue, but you are not without hope. Let a therapist contracted with CCS—Cameron help you through the difficulty of PTSD.


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Serving Areas: Carolina Counseling Services – Cameron, NC

Counties: Harnett County

Areas: Cameron NC, Linden Oaks NC, Sprout Springs NC, Anderson Creek NC, Olivia NC, Pineview NC, Johnsonville NC, Spring Lake NC

Zip Codes: 28326, 28327, 27332, 28394

Rose Thomas, MA, LPC, LCAS, NCC

Specializes in: (Ages 5+) Children, Teens, Individuals, Couples and Families. Anxiety, Depression, ODD (Oppositional Defiance Disorder, ADHD, Relationship Issues, Marriage Counseling, Parenting, PTSD/Trauma Recovery, Acute Stress Disorder, Adult Sexual Abuse Survivors, Adjustment Disorders, Depressive Disorders, Persistent Depressive Disorder, Bipolar and Related Disorders, Self-injurious/Self-Harm, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, Agoraphobia, Separation Anxiety, Disruptive Disorders, Conduct Disorder, Marital Conflict and Discord, LGBT, Substance Use Disorders
 Insurance: BCBS, Tricare, Tricare Prime, Tricare Select, Extra, Retired, Cash, HSA and FSA accepted (credit cards accepted)
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Specializes in: (Ages 4+) Children, Individuals, families, PTSD, Trauma, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Adjustment Disorder, ADHD, Depression, Anxiety, communication skills, and Parenting Skills, Behavior Management, Life transitions, Family Conflict, Difficulty Coping, Relationship Problems, Depression, Anxiety

InsuranceBCBSTricare, Cash, HSA and FSA accepted and Apple Pay

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Shirlisa Daniels, MS, LPC, NCC

Specializes in: (Ages 4+) Children, Teens, Adults and Individuals, Families, Anxiety Disorders, Depression, Panic Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, ADHD, ODD, PTSD, Relationship Issues, Conflict Resolution and Life Transitions
Insurance: BCBS, Tricare, Cash (credit cards accepted)
 Credit Cards: Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express

Holly Ring, LMFT

Specializes in: (Ages 7+) Adolescents, College Students, Individuals, Couples, and Families, Anxiety, Depression, Trauma (child and adult, TFCBT certified), Relationship Issues, Coping Skills, Adjustment Disorders, Life Transitions, Suicidal Ideation, Self-esteem, OCD, ADHD, Behavioral Issues, Parenting Skills, LGBTQ
Insurance: BCBS, Tricare, Cash (credit cards accepted)
 Credit Cards: Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express

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