What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?
Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is a medical illness that can occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event. PTSD is often also called ‘trauma.’ Following a traumatic event, experiencing symptoms such as flashbacks, nightmares, and anxiety is normal, but when the severity of symptoms becomes progressively worse instead of better, it is important to reach out to your medical and mental health support providers.
PTSD symptoms may increase during periods of stress or when you encounter reminders (‘triggers’) of your experience. At times, you may feel periods of increased symptoms without realizing the cause. Your subconscious brain may recognize a ‘trigger’ that you are not consciously aware of.
PTSD can have a huge impact on your life and on your loved ones. It can make it difficult to connect with your loved ones, impact your concentration so that it’s difficult to work or stay on topic in a conversation, result in chronic feelings of anxiety and stress or depression, impact your sleep (nightmares or insomnia), and it can result in the exhausting need to be alert at every moment of the day and night. Because the brain has rewired itself to be hyper-alert to threats, it becomes very common to avoid things that cause increased stress because it’s so challenging. When this happens, it can feel like your world is shrinking. PTSD is an exhausting illness with your brain and body working overtime and negative emotions like guilt, anger, shame, and sadness dominating.
Because PTSD symptoms can be so severe, reaching out for help is important. There are therapies and PTSD treatments that can help!
Several criteria for diagnosis have been identified:
- A stressor (traumatic event)
- Intrusion symptoms
- Negative changes in cognition (thinking) and mood
- Changes in arousal and reactivity
- Duration (how long have the symptoms lasted)
- Functional significance (the symptoms have a negative impact on your life)
- The symptoms are not due to another diagnosis.
So what are the signs of PTSD? Symptoms may include:
- Memories of the event
- Emotional distress and physical reactions to something that reminds you of the event
- Reliving the event
Avoidance of trauma-related thoughts
Feelings or reminders
Negative changes in cognition (thinking) and mood:
- Difficulty feeling positive emotion
- Decreased interest in activities
- Negative thinking patterns
- Blame on others for causing the trauma
- Difficulty remembering key aspects of the trauma
Alterations in arousal and reactivity:
- Easily startled
- ‘On guard’ (hyperarousal)
- Difficulty sleeping and concentrating
- Self-destructive behaviour
- Feeling like an outside observer
- Feeling detached
- Feeling of unreality
- Feeling distant
What Are the Causes of PTSD?
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder can be triggered by various distressing events. The causes of PTSD are complex and multi-faceted, often involving a combination of psychological, biological and environmental factors.
Traumatic experiences such as natural disasters, physical or sexual abuse, exposure to combat, and serious accidents can leave a lasting impression on an individual’s emotional and mental well-being.
Individuals with a history of pre-existing mental health issues like anxiety and depression might be more prone to PTSD. To address the challenges associated with PTSD, various treatment approaches have emerged, including neurofeedback therapy for PTSD, PTSD counselling, and other evidence-based interventions tailored to the unique needs of individuals struggling with this condition.
With Renew Neurotherapy’s three convenient locations in Ottawa, Pembroke, and North Bay, we are committed to offering accessible support to all of our patients.
Treatments for PTSD
At Renew, our experienced clinicians offer specialized counselling for individuals suffering from PTSD. Through our tailored approach, we employ a variety of evidence-based tools which include:
- Cognitive behavioural strategies
- Dialectical behavioural strategies
- Distress tolerance techniques
- Behaviour activation methods
- Stress and anxiety management techniques
- Emotion regulation training, graded exposure therapies
- Boundary-setting exercises.
- Acceptance and commitment therapy
- Yoga therapy
- Emotion-focused therapy
- Motivational interviewing
Learn more about our psychotherapy services at Renew for PTSD.
LIFESTYLE CHANGES AND BRAIN HEALTH SUPPORT
According to recent studies, simple practices like regular exercise, a balanced diet, finding a work-life balance that works for you, spending time with loved ones, relaxing, limiting screen time, prioritizing and optimizing sleep, and others have a big positive effect on mental health.
For you to transition to a healthier and more balanced lifestyle, Renew therapists can assist you in reorganizing your daily routine, creating boundaries, establishing realistic objectives, and recognizing priorities.
Living with the chronic anxiety associated with PTSD can have a deep impact on brain function. Many clients express challenges with attention and memory, often describing difficulties in organizing their thoughts and feeling overwhelmed by endless to-do lists.
At Renew, we will work with you to develop effective strategies and tools that not only provide short-term relief for your symptoms but also promote long-term improvement. We can navigate through the complexities of PTSD together, empowering you to regain control of your cognitive functioning and lead a fulfilling life.
The impact of PTSD can be overwhelming, making it difficult to engage in work, school, and other important aspects of life. However, at Renew, we believe in your ability to regain control. We understand the challenges you might face and are committed to helping you reintegrate into the activities and environments you may have lost due to your PTSD. Take your first step to reclaim your life by exploring our therapy options at Renew.
Neurofeedback therapy offers a unique approach to addressing the underlying patterns of brain function associated with PTSD. Through an initial brain map, our therapists gain insight into the specific brain activity patterns that may contribute to your symptoms.
By identifying these patterns, we can design brain training sessions to help reorganize your brain activity, enhancing its efficiency and flexibility. As your brain becomes better equipped to regulate itself, you will experience improved symptom management and a greater sense of well-being.
Discover the transformative potential of neurofeedback therapy from Renew in your journey towards healing from PTSD.
Neuromeditation, a personalized approach to meditation, utilizes your unique brain activity and natural abilities. Prior to meditation training, our therapists conduct a comprehensive assessment of your skills. This assessment allows us to identify meditation styles that will align with your personality and lifestyle, enhancing the effectiveness of your practice. Clients often find that learning to meditate becomes more accessible and less challenging when incorporating neuromeditation techniques.
How PTSD Treatments Can Help?
PTSD Treatments are essential in assisting individuals suffering from PTSD to recover and reclaim their lives. The evidence-based approaches like neurofeedback therapy, PTSD counselling, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, and CBT methods offer useful tools for managing the symptoms of PTSD, processing traumatic events and helping in developing coping mechanisms.
The treatments address the underlying causes of PTSD, encourage healing and provide individuals required support and help needed to navigate toward improved well-being and recovery.
Frequently Asked Questions
There are many approaches to treating PTSD, and every person has different needs. Cognitive-behavioural Therapy (CBT) is often recommended as ‘first-line’ treatment for PTSD, along with cognitive processing therapy (CPT), cognitive therapy (CT), and prolonged exposure therapy (PE). This class of therapy is generally concerned with changing negative thought patterns and behaviours associated with the condition.
The best treatment for PTSD in Canada may vary based on individual needs, but commonly recommended options include evidence-based therapies like CBT, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), and medication management.
The effectiveness or success of PTSD treatment depends on the person and the type of therapy chosen, but with the right care and support, you can see a significant improvement in PTSD symptoms and overall well-being.
Neurofeedback is a learning process, and the severity of the symptoms and a person’s progress influence how many neurofeedback sessions could be required. The clients should start seeing symptom relief within 5 to 10 sessions.
Counselling is an effective treatment option for PTSD because it provides individuals with a safe space to explore their experiences, develop coping strategies, and receive emotional support to facilitate healing and recovery
During PTSD counselling, individuals can expect to engage in open and supportive discussions about their experiences, emotions, and symptoms. The counsellor will guide the process, helping individuals gain insight, develop coping skills, and work towards healing and improved well-being.