About 6% of the population will experience PTSD, or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, at some point in their lives, and women are twice as likely to deal with the effects of PTSD than men.
To gain a better understanding of why EMDR therapy is so effective in treating those with PTSD, it’s important to know what PTSD is, its causes, and its symptoms.
What is PTSD?
According to the Disabled Veteran National Foundation, PTSD is an acute reaction to a traumatic event that can cause negative symptoms associated with whatever the traumatic experience was.
Essentially, PTSD is a mental setback that can occur after you experience or witness a life-threatening event like combat, a serious accident, a natural disaster, or sexual assault.
Those who have PTSD may experience disturbing thoughts and feelings related to their traumatic experience long after the traumatic event has ended. Anyone of any age, race, nationality, or ethnicity is prone to getting PTSD, which makes treatment for this disorder that much more valuable.
Potential Causes of PTSD
As stated earlier, PTSD can be caused by a traumatic event at any point in a person’s life. Some of the more common causes of PTSD may include:
- Exposure to combat or war
- Childhood physical or sexual abuse
- Sexual assault or violence
- Physical assault
- Being threatened with a weapon
- A serious accident or natural disaster
- Inherited mental health risks, such as a family history of depression or anxiety disorders
Symptoms of PTSD & Receiving a Diagnosis
Typically, PTSD symptoms begin within a month of a traumatic event, but there are cases where symptoms don’t arise until years after the trauma.
It’s important to be able to recognize the symptoms of PTSD before they begin interfering with your social, family, or work life in a very negative way.
PTSD symptoms are often grouped into four categories:
- Intrusive memories
- Negative changes in thinking and mood
- Changes in physical and emotional reactions
In order to be given a formal diagnosis for PTSD, symptoms must last for more than a month and must be having a severe negative impact on your daily living.
Let’s break down the symptoms of each category in the following sections.
Some symptoms of intrusive memories might include:
- Intense, recurrent, distressing memories of the traumatic experience
- Experiencing flashbacks of the traumatic event, which means you are reliving the trauma as if it were happening again
- Disturbing dreams or nightmares about the trauma
- Emotional or physical reactions to something that triggers a reminder of the traumatic event
Some symptoms of avoidance might include:
- Consistently trying to ignore thinking or talking about the traumatic event
- Avoiding places, activities, or people that remind you of the traumatic experience
Negative Changes in Thinking & Mood
Some symptoms of negative changes in thinking and mood might include:
- Difficulty maintaining close relationships
- Feeling detached from family or friends
- Losing interest in activities or hobbies you usually enjoy
- Being emotionally numb
- Not being able to experience positive emotions
- Issues with your memory, including not remembering certain aspects of the traumatic event
- Negative thoughts about yourself or others
- Feeling hopeless about the future
Changes in Physical & Emotional Reactions
Some symptoms of changes in physical & emotional reactions might include:
- Easily being scared or startled
- Always being on guard for danger
- Issues with sleeping
- Trouble concentrating
- Feeling a sense of overwhelming guilt or shame
- Irritability or aggressive, angry outbursts
- Destructive behavior such as alcohol or drug abuse