Post traumatic stress disorder, more commonly known as PTSD, is an anxiety disorder that results from experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event(s) where physical harm occurred or was threatened.
Known as shell shock and battle fatigue syndrome in the past, in modern day, PTSD was first noticed among Civil War soldiers, and later among WWI soldiers. In fact, PTSD was brought to the attention of the medical community by veterans who were suffering from it, although anyone who has experienced or witnessed trauma can develop it. PTSD is very common among soldiers who have been in active duty, as well as among abuse victims and emergency and rescue workers.
Thanks to years of research, today psychologists and medical professionals know more about what causes PTSD than they did in the past, as well as how it is best treated. Depending on the person and the details of the trauma they witnessed or suffered, PTSD treatment involves psychotherapy, PTSD medication, or in some cases, both. PTSD Medication is used to treat anxiety and depression associated with PTSD, while the goal of therapy is to help the PTSD sufferer learn skills to manage their symptoms. A secondary goal of therapy is to help patients develop healthy ways to cope with the trauma they suffered.
Because of the unique nature of PTSD, it's important to choose a therapist who is trained in and experienced with treating PTSD. This means talking with multiple therapists, and finding one who is not only experienced in PTSD treatment, but who you feel comfortable working with. A good starting place is to talk with your family doctor or a local mental health agency, to get a list of recommendations. If you have insurance, you can also call your insurance provider and get a list of mental health service providers in their PPO.
Things to look for in a therapist include:
- One you feel comfortable with
- One who respects you, including your opinions, feelings, individuality, and right to disagree
- One who acts as a doctor, and is not interested in being your friend or partner
- One who is willing to share his or her experiences with you when relevant, but who doesn't spend time talking about his or her own problems
- One who is not going to force you to talk about things you aren't ready for
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