By: Jennifer Hall
Many of us have heard the term post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), often in the context of military combat veterans suffering from the emotional and psychological aftereffects of trauma experienced during wartime. But PTSD has a profound but often unrecognized effect on the civilian population as well. According to PTSDunited.org, 70% of U.S. adults have experienced some type of traumatic event, and of these, 20% will develop some form of PTSD in their lifetimes. That means that at any one moment, as many as 24.4 million Americans are struggling with some form of PTSD.
A traumatic event can have profound and long-term effects on the human body and mind. When we are frightened, our bodies typically react by displaying a “fight-or-flight” response. Heart rate and respiration increase, our senses go on high alert, and our bodies produce substances like adrenaline to help us fight off or escape the threat. Typically, we return to a resting state after the traumatic event has passed—but not always. Some traumatic events can have lasting effects on our mental and emotional landscape. PTSD is a term we use to describe this often-complex array of symptoms, which may include sleep disturbances, nightmares, re-experiencing the event (flashbacks), anxiety, depression, hyper-vigilance, aggression, substance abuse, suicidal thoughts, or avoidance of places or experiences associated with the event.
While only about one-fifth of trauma survivors develop some sort of PTSD, all PTSD cases are linked to some traumatic event. These events may occur suddenly (such as a car accident, natural disaster, or animal attack) or over the long term (such as physical abuse, sexual abuse, or imprisonment). In some cases, person may develop PTSD not from a traumatic event that happened to them, but by witnessing an event that happened to someone else, such as a friend or family member. PTSD symptoms typically begin to appear within 3 months of the traumatic event, but may not appear until years later.
Children and teens sometimes display extreme reactions to a traumatic event but their symptoms can differ from those of adults with PTSD. Pediatric PTSD symptoms can include: bedwetting, reluctance or inability to speak, re-enacting the traumatic event through play, and displaying “clingy” or “needy” behavior around parents or guardians. Teens who experience PTSD may be disruptive, rebellious, or even destructive. They may also experience thoughts of guilt, depression, or a desire for revenge. This wide variation in PTSD manifestations continues to challenge clinicians who treat adults and children with the disorder.
Over the past several decades, medical and behavioral science have made significant advances in the diagnosis, management, and treatment of PTSD. Therapy currently focuses on a combination of medical and cognitive therapy. Because PTSD is slightly different for each individual there is no single cure or approach to treatment. The best outcomes are seen with individualized therapy tailored to the specific symptoms and emotional dynamics of each client.
At Key Assets Kentucky, our clinicians are experienced in treating clients with adult and pediatric PTSD. We offer psychotherapeutic treatment options (including Trauma-Focused Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy) and work closely with each client to develop a treatment plan that works. If you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms indicative of PTSD, contact Key Assets today. We’re here to help.
Key Assets Kentucky, is a behavioral health and child caring company based in Central Kentucky. Through our Key Assets Behavioral Health program and Children in Community Care program, we seek to positively impact the lives of children, young people, their families. We specialize in offering support services via residential treatment group home care for youth with autism and/or developmental disabilities, and behavioral health therapy and case management services for youth, adults and families in times of crisis. Key Assets Kentucky is part of the Key Assets Group, an international group of companies delivering a continuum of services for children, adults and families.