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Approximately 8 million adults in the United States suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms.

What is PTSD?

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD occurs in people who have experienced a traumatic event or series of events. Individuals may experience this as emotionally or physically painful and it can affect mental, physical, social, and/or spiritual well-being.

A traumatic event is any event, or series of events, that causes extreme stress. These events make someone feel a sense of horror and helplessness, or that the event will cause serious injury or death.

Examples of traumatic events include natural disasters, severe accidents, war/combat, sexual assault, or partner violence.

What are the symptoms of PTSD?

The symptoms of PTSD can vary in intensity and may develop shortly after the trauma or even months or years later. These symptoms can be grouped into four main categories: intrusion, avoidance, negative alterations in cognition and mood, and alterations in arousal and reactivity. Here are some symptoms in each category:

  1. Intrusion Symptoms:
    • Distressing and intrusive memories of the traumatic event
    • Nightmares related to the trauma
    • Flashbacks, feeling as if the trauma is happening again
    • Intense emotional or physical reactions to reminders of the trauma
  2. Avoidance Symptoms:
    • Avoiding thoughts, feelings, or conversations related to the traumatic event
    • Avoiding people, places, or activities that remind the person of the trauma
    • Loss of interest or participation in once-enjoyed activities
    • Feeling emotionally numb or disconnected from others
  3. Negative Alterations in Cognition and Mood:
    • Persistent negative beliefs about oneself, others, or the world
    • Distorted thoughts about the cause or consequences of the trauma
    • Persistent negative emotions like fear, anger, guilt, or shame
    • Feeling detached from others or difficulty maintaining close relationships
  4. Alterations in Arousal and Reactivity:
    • Irritability, outbursts of anger, or aggressive behavior
    • Hypervigilance, feeling constantly on guard
    • Difficulty concentrating or staying focused
    • Exaggerated startle response

It's important to note that experiencing some of these symptoms after a traumatic event is a normal response. However, if these symptoms persist for more than a few weeks, are severe, or interfere with daily life, it might be indicative of PTSD. If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of PTSD, it's recommended to seek professional help from a mental health provider. PTSD is a treatable condition, and therapy, medication, or a combination of both can be effective in managing its symptoms.

What causes PTSD?

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is typically caused by experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. Trauma refers to situations that are extremely distressing, frightening, or life-threatening. Not everyone who experiences a traumatic event will develop PTSD; it depends on a combination of factors including the individual's psychological resilience, coping mechanisms, and support systems. Here are some common causes and risk factors associated with the development of PTSD:

  1. Traumatic Events:
    • Combat exposure (for military personnel)
    • Physical or sexual assault
    • Natural disasters (earthquakes, hurricanes, etc.)
    • Accidents (car crashes, plane crashes)
    • Terrorism or acts of violence
    • Medical trauma (serious injuries, surgeries)
    • Childhood abuse or neglect
    • Witnessing traumatic events
  2. Personal Vulnerability:
    • Pre-existing mental health conditions, such as anxiety or depression
    • Family history of mental health disorders
    • Childhood trauma or adverse experiences
    • Previous experiences with trauma
  3. Biological Factors:
    • Genetic predisposition to anxiety and stress-related disorders
    • Neurochemical imbalances in the brain related to stress response
  4. Psychological Factors:
    • Perception of the traumatic event as life-threatening or extremely distressing
    • Coping mechanisms and resilience levels
    • Presence of dissociation during the trauma (feeling disconnected from reality)
  5. Social Support:
    • Lack of strong social support systems
    • Limited access to mental health resources and treatment
  6. Brain and Hormonal Changes:
    • Trauma can affect the brain's stress response system, leading to alterations in the amygdala and hippocampus, which play roles in memory and emotional processing.
    • Chronic activation of the body's stress hormones (such as cortisol) can contribute to the development of PTSD symptoms.

How is PTSD treated?

PTSD is typically treated by psychotherapy, medication, or by a combination of the two.

Psychotherapy methods may include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. This kind of treatment involves working with a therapist to identify and overcome negative thought patterns related to trauma. This may be paired with Exposure Therapy in which patients are given safe opportunities to face traumatic situations and memories.

Common medications for PTSD include antidepressants such as Zoloft and Paxil. These can help patients with sleep problems and trouble concentrating. A doctor might also prescribe anti-anxiety medication for severe symptoms of anxiety.

AZ Pain and Spine Institute
PTSD Treatments

Here at Arizona Pain and Spine Institute, we improve our patients’ quality of life by alleviating and managing their pain. Some of our PTSD treatments include:

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Why choose AZ Pain and Spine Institute to treat your PTSD?

We have a team of medical practitioners, pain management doctors, and staff who are experts on pain management, including PTSD. We use state-of-the-art technology and effective approaches in achieving our mission. We care about your well-being and are committed to making your life pain-free.