Do I have PTSD?
"Dear Dr. Tracy...I was attacked by my ex-boyfriend several years ago and was hospitalized with a concussion. Whenever I am in the neighborhood I lived in at the time of the attack, I feel like I can't breathe. Do I have PTSD?"
Many of the people who seek therapy with me meet diagnostic criteria for PTSD. Read on to gain information on this diagnosis, what it means, and how you can heal.
PTSD is an abbreviation for a mental health condition called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. PTSD results from the survival of, and subsequent painful reaction to, a traumatic event. The traumatic event may have occurred in a single instance, such as in the case of a natural disaster, car accident, or assault, or may have represented a persistent theme, as in the case of ongoing childhood sexual abuse or witnessing frequent domestic violence in the home. Below, is a summary of what the most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) has to say about the diagnosis of PTSD. For the complete DSM criteria, click the link below:
1). Stressor: You experienced a significant stressor/traumatic event
2). Intrusion: The traumatic event is re-experienced through memories, nightmares, and/or flashbacks, and you experience emotional distress or physical reactivity (e.g., heart racing, nausea, etc.) when this re-experiencing occurs.
3). Avoidance: You do your best to avoid thinking about the trauma - this sometimes involves substance abuse or dissociation (the feeling of leaving your body).
4). Negative alterations in mood and cognition: Your mood and your thinking are negatively impacted by the trauma. You may feel isolated and alone, you may belief the trauma was your fault, you may have trouble experiencing joy).
5). Alterations in arousal or reactivity: You may feel irritable, aggressive, have difficulty concentrating, have difficulty sleeping and you may startle easily. I describe this as walking through life on the constant look out for danger.
Does this sound like you or someone you know? If symptoms have lasted more than a month and create significant distress or impairment in your life, you may have PTSD. Living with PTSD is painful and frightening. You may at times feel as if you are losing your mind. The good news is that there is hope. Many people have found relief from these symptoms through a new, brief, and extremely effective, evidence-based therapy that can make your suffering a thing of the past: Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART). Here is a link to a YouTube video about ART:
You are not alone. The link below will assist you in finding a certified ART therapist in your area: