After experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event, it’s common to experience heightened anxiety levels. This can occur shortly after the event, or months or even years later. Troubling symptoms that persist for more than a month may be a case of post-traumatic stress disorder. Women who suspect they may be dealing with PTSD can turn to a center for women’s health for mental health treatment. If you’re concerned about yourself or a loved one, here’s an overview of PTSD and treatment options.
Signs of PTSD
Even when you’re not consciously thinking about the event, nightmares or flashbacks cause you to relive it over and over.
Avoidance and Withdrawal
Fear and anxiety compel you to stay away from anything that reminds you of the traumatic event. You may even withdraw from family and friends altogether.
Changes in Behavior and Mood
Intense emotions may lead you to become aggressive and prone to angry outbursts. Some people with PTSD experience mood swings that don’t appear related to trauma. They may contend with feelings of guilt, numbness, depression, and low self-esteem.
Increases in Anxiety
The painful event may cause you to form negative generalizations about yourself and the world-at-large. Feeling as though you’re always on high alert, you may be hyper-vigilant and easily startled. These mau be signs of increased anxiety in your day-to-day life.
Psychotherapy, the primary component of treatment, is designed to teach healthy coping skills, help you develop a positive outlook, and address any other co-occurring issues, such as drug or alcohol use. Types of psychotherapy offered at a women’s health care center include cognitive therapy, which helps you recognize and change negative thought patterns; exposure therapy, which enables you to safely confront frightening situations, and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). This approach uses guided eye movements, coupled with exposure therapy, to help you process painful memories and change your reactions to them. A mental health therapist may also work with a physician to prescribe medication to help you manage PTSD symptoms.
The Center for Women’s Health at Chicago Behavioral Hospital provides specialized PTSD treatment consisting of inpatient care, partial hospitalization, and/or intensive outpatient therapy. Contact us to learn more or schedule an evaluation.