Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that develops in some people that’s triggered by a terrifying or dangerous event — either by experiencing it or witnessing it. During this type of event, you may think that your life or others’ lives are in danger. Families of victims can also develop PTSD. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event. It affects your life and the people around you.
Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Symptoms of PTSD fall into four categories. Specific symptoms can vary in severity.
- Reliving the Ordeal: People with PTSD repeatedly relive the ordeal through thoughts and memories of the trauma. They have intrusive thoughts such as repeated, involuntary memories; distressing dreams; or flashbacks of the traumatic event. Flashbacks may be so vivid that people feel they are re-living the traumatic experience or seeing it before their eyes. They also may feel great distress when certain things remind them of the trauma, such as the anniversary date of the event.
- Avoiding Reminders: Avoiding reminders of the traumatic event may include avoiding people, places, activities, objects and situations that bring on distressing memories. People may try to avoid remembering or thinking about the traumatic event. They may resist talking about what happened or how they feel about it. This can lead to feelings of detachment and isolation from family and friends, as well as a loss of interest in activities that the person once enjoyed.
- Negative Thoughts and Feelings: Negative thoughts and feelings may include ongoing and distorted beliefs about oneself or others (e.g., “I am bad,” “No one can be trusted”); ongoing fear, horror, anger, guilt, self-blame or shame; much less interest in activities previously enjoyed; intense memories of the traumatic event; or feeling detached or estranged from others.
- Increased Arousal: Arousal and reactive symptoms may include excessive emotions; being irritable and having angry outbursts; problems relating to others; behaving recklessly or in a self-destructive way; being “jumpy” or easily startled; or having difficulty concentrating or sleeping. The individual may also suffer physical symptoms, such as increased blood pressure and heart rate, rapid breathing, muscle tension, nausea, and diarrhea.
Not every traumatized person develops ongoing (chronic) or even short-term (acute) PTSD. Not everyone with PTSD has been through a dangerous event. Some experiences, like the sudden, unexpected death of a loved one, can also cause PTSD. Symptoms usually begin early, within 3 months of the traumatic incident, but sometimes they begin years afterward. Symptoms must last more than a month and be severe enough to interfere with relationships or work to be considered PTSD. The course of the illness varies. Some people recover within 6 months, while others have symptoms that last much longer. In some people, the condition becomes chronic.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Treatment at the Yang Institute
The Yang Institute uses a variety of therapies to treat PTSD, including cognitive behavioral therapy and acupuncture.
Acupuncture treatment has the ability to reduce anxiety and emotional stress. In Chinese medicine, the concept of Qi represents the vital energy in the body which either flows freely or experiences blockages. In many cases, those with PTSD have residual emotional discomfort that can cause long-term mental health issues. Acupuncture helps to release blocked energy, or Qi, in the body, create a relaxed and stress-free sensation, and diminish that emotional discomfort.