PTSD is a serious and often debilitating mental health condition that affects people who have experienced some form of trauma. Typically the trauma is life-threatening such as natural disasters, serious accidents, war, terrorism, an unexpected death of a loved one, personal assault, or rape. Patients with PTSD often experience depression, anxiety, and/or substance abuse.
Symptoms common to PTSD include difficulty sleeping or concentrating, irritability, or feeling jumpy or unsettled. Some patients may avoid people, places, and things that remind them of the trauma or descend into emotional numbness. Others may experience flashbacks, nightmares, or intrusive memories of the event. PTSD may not develop immediately after the traumatic incident. In some cases, PTSD may not present itself for months or even years after the event. In order for PTSD to be fully diagnosed, the patient will have experienced or witnessed serious injury, actual or threatened death, or personal assault including sexual violation. The patient will also present at least one of the following symptoms:
Dr. van Riel offers highly personalized treatment plans to help her patients living with PTSD. In addition to medication, there are a variety of treatment modalities that she may use, depending on the needs and experience of the patient. One of the most commonly used forms of psychotherapy for PTSD is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). CBT trains patients to recognize their emotions and associated behaviors for the purposes of deliberately choosing healthier or more productive behaviors instead of engaging in reckless or destructive activities. Some patients may benefit from cognitive restructuring which helps patients to make sense of the traumatic memories. For example, a patient may have a distorted memory of the event, making them feel guilt or shame where neither is warranted. Dr. van Riel may also work with the patient using stress inoculation training to reduce anxiety. Similar to cognitive restructuring, patients tend to develop a healthier response to the memories of the traumatic event.
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