Therapy for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

What is PTSD?

Treating PTSD through Psychotherapy

We help residents of Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania to address their PTSD. We can also help assess and formally diagnose PTSD with a formal PTSD Assessment. Learn more about the triggers of PTSD and what PTSD feels like.

Triggers for PTSD

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that’s triggered by a shocking, dangerous, or frightening event – either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares, and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event. 

It is natural to feel afraid during and after a traumatic situation. Fear triggers immediate changes in the body to help defend itself against danger, and this “fight-or-flight” response is a typical reaction. Most people will recover from these initial symptoms on their own, but if you continue to feel frightened or stressed, even when not in danger, you may be diagnosed with PTSD.

Not everyone with PTSD has personally been through a dangerous event. Some people develop it after a friend or family member experiences danger or harm, or has a sudden, unexpected death.

What Do the Symptoms of PTSD Look Like?

Post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms may start within one month of a traumatic event, or not appear until years afterward. The symptoms cause significant problems in social and work situations and relationships, and can interfere with your daily life.

PTSD symptoms are grouped into four types: intrusive memories, avoidance, negative changes in thinking and mood, and changes in physical and emotional reactions.

Intrusive memories, or re-experiencing, can look like:

  • Recurrent, unwanted distressing memories of the event
  • Reliving the trauma as if it were happening again (flashbacks)
  • Upsetting dreams or nightmares
  • Severe emotional distress or physical reactions to something that reminds you of the traumatic event

Avoidance, or numbness, can look like:

  • Trying not to think or talk about the event
  • Staying away from places or objects that are reminders of the experience
  • Not being able to remember details or aspects of the ordeal
  • Feeling devoid of emotion and detached from others
  • Loss of interest in activities and life in general

Negative changes in thinking and mood can look like:

  • Difficulty concentrating or remembering
  • Negative thoughts about oneself or the world
  • Distorted feelings like shame, guilt, blame, mistrust, and betrayal
  • Loss of interest in enjoyable activities
  • Feeling alienated and alone, depression and hopelessness

Changes in physical and emotional reactions can look like:

  • Hyperarousal: a heightened state of anxiety where the body feels like it is constantly on guard and ready to “fight or flight”
  • Being easily startled or frightened
  • Self-destructive and reckless behavior
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Irritability, angry outbursts, or aggressive behavior

What to do if you think you or someone you love has PTSD

PTSD can leave you feeling stuck with a constant sense of danger and painful memories. But treatment can help you learn coping skills and recognize symptoms to prevent and reduce your anxiety and fear.

Contact us today to see if one of our psychotherapists is a fit for you. Email us at [email protected]

You can also send us an inquiry via our contact form.

We are licensed to practice psychotherapy in Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia, Illinois, and Pennsylvania, and Michigan.

Contact us today about finding a therapist who is a fit for you.

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