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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Stafford,Ruther Glen, VA and Washington, D.C.

Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is a mental health disorder that develops after a traumatic event. It can completely disrupt an individual’s life, making it hard to sleep, relax, concentrate, and function.

You may have heard that PTSD mainly develops in soldiers, but it’s actually more common than you might think. PTSD affects around 8 million adults in the U.S. each year, and there are many types of traumatic events that can trigger the disorder.

Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is a mental health disorder
Understanding PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that's triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it.

Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event.

Most people who go through traumatic events may have temporary difficulty adjusting and coping, but with time and good self-care, they usually get better. If the symptoms get worse, last for months or even years, and interfere with your day-to-day functioning, you may have PTSD.

Getting effective treatment after PTSD symptoms develop can be critical to reduce symptoms and improve function.

Understanding PTSD

Symptoms of PTSD

Re-Experiencing Symptoms

These include intrusive thoughts about a traumatic event, nightmares, and flashbacks. A flashback is a frightening 

Arousal and Reactivity Symptoms

PTSD often causes hyperarousal, a condition marked by heightened vigilance and reactivity. You may feel “on edge” constantly, as if you cannot relax, and get startled easily. Hyperarousal also causes insomnia, trouble concentrating, and outbursts of anger.

Avoidance Symptoms

People with PTSD often seek to avoid all reminders of what happened. They may refuse to go to certain places, see certain people, or talk about what they went through. They try to push all thoughts of the event out of their mind, but flashbacks and nightmares can make this difficult.

Cognitive Symptoms

People living with PTSD experience changes in the way they think and feel. They may become more irritable, anxious, and fearful. They also tend to have negative thoughts about themselves or the world. For example, you might believe the world is a dangerous place and no one can be trusted, or that you’re a bad person and are to blame for the trauma. This frequently prompts behavioral changes like withdrawing from family and friends or abusing alcohol and drugs.

People with PTSD experience a very distinct set of symptoms that can be grouped into different categories:

What Causes PTSD?

You can develop post-traumatic stress disorder when you go through, see or learn about an event involving actual or threatened death, serious injury or sexual violation.

PTSD is probably caused by a complex mix of:

  • Physical assault and other violent crimes

  • Rape or sexual assault

  • Physical or sexual abuse

  • Natural disasters

  • Accidents

  • Terrorist attacks/mass shootings

  • A difficult childbirth or miscarriage

  • The sudden/unexpected death of a loved one

  • Exposure to violence first-hand (e.g., through one’s job)

  • Military combat/exposure to war

What Causes PTSD?

Acute Stress Disorder:

​Acute stress disorder is very similar to PTSD but is shorter in duration. ASD symptoms develop immediately after a traumatic event and last three days to one month. If symptoms persist beyond a month, the individual has developed PTSD.

Adjustment Disorders:

Adjustment disorders are usually temporary and triggered by stressful life events such as divorce, job loss, being diagnosed with an illness, or losing a loved one. Some people are able to cope with the stress of these situations on their own, but others need help from a doctor or mental health professional.

  • Symptoms of an adjustment disorder may include:

  • Frequent sadness or hopelessness

  • Crying often

  • Withdrawing from family and friends

  • Not enjoying your favorite activities and hobbies anymore

  • Lack of appetite

  • Insomnia

  • Neglecting your responsibilities at home or work

  • Having trouble focusing

  • Difficulty functioning in daily life

  • Suicidal thoughts or behaviors

If you see some of these signs after a big event, reach out to a mental health expert at Grace Health Services LLC. While treatment for adjustment issues is often short-term, ongoing issues like a lasting illness or troubles in relationships might need longer care.

Adjustment Disorders for PTSD
PTSD Risk factors

Risk factors

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can affect individuals of any age, but there are certain factors that might increase the likelihood of developing it following a traumatic experience. These include:

  1. Undergoing trauma that is either very severe or persists for a long time.

  2. Previous encounters with trauma, especially during early life stages, like childhood abuse.

  3. Occupations that might frequently expose you to traumatic situations, for example, roles in the military or emergency response services.

  4. Existing mental health challenges, such as anxiety or depression.

  5. Struggles with substance abuse, including heavy alcohol consumption or drug use.

  6. A lack of strong support networks, including family and friends.

  7. A family history of mental health issues, including anxiety and depression.

Let’s get you the care you deserve!

​Our certified providers at Grace Health Services in VA & D.C. are dedicated to understanding and treating a variety of mental health challenges. Drawing from both modern research and years of hands-on experience, we aim to provide nothing but the finest care from the moment of diagnosis.

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