Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
How does PTSD develop?: Not everyone who witnesses or experiences a traumatic event develops PTSD. Anyone at any age can have PTSD. Avoidance of the trauma reminders (people, places, memories, thoughts, and feelings) is a key factor in developing PTSD. Avoidance leads to negative beliefs about others, oneself, emotions, and the world because the person isn’t facing fears and learning that either their fearful predictions may not be likely to happen or they can in fact tolerate the discomfort.
Symptoms of PTSD:
|Re-experiencing||Repeated, intrusive, and unwanted memories, nightmares, flashbacks|
|Avoidance||Persistently staying clear of trauma memories and reminders – people, places, sights, smells, sounds, music|
|Changes in thinking or emotions||Overly negative beliefs about self, others, world, exaggerated blame of self or others, difficulty experiencing positive mood|
|Changes in arousal or reactivity||Overly alert, easily startled, on guard, difficulty concentrating or sleeping, irritability or aggression, risky behavior|
The treatment for PTSD is a type of Cognitive Behavior Treatment called Prolonged Exposure (PE). PE is the the most research based treatment for trauma. DBT-PE is adapted from PE and used to treat trauma in combination with suicidal/self-harming symptoms and multiple diagnoses (i.e., PTSD and BPD).
The treatment includes in-vivo (real life) exposure to help clients approach trauma reminders that they want to stop avoiding. Imaginal exposure is used to revisit the trauma story in a safe way. These exposures are highly effective in breaking the cycle of avoidance that maintains PTSD by teaching people to cope with the trauma reminders, feel in control of emotions, and reduce problem thoughts.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
A panic attack is an experience of intense fear and abrupt, short lasting physical reactions in. one’s body. Panic attacks can last on average 5-20 minutes and generally less than an hour.
Panic disorder occurs when one has repeated panic attacks and can lead to Agoraphobia, which is either extreme dread or complete avoidance of situations that an escape is either difficult or unavailable.
The treatment for panic disorder is a type of cognitive behavior therapy called exposure therapy. This includes in-vivo exposure (facing cues in the environment that cause panic) and interoceptive exposure (facing body cues that are similar to panic). Breathing and thinking skills are taught to use during and after exposure situations.
Body Dysmorphic Disorder
BDD is considered an OCD spectrum disorder.
Obsessions in BDD are related to one’s perceived or actual body flaws.
Compulsions in BDD are frequently related to mirrors (avoiding mirrors and/or repeatedly checking mirrors, binocular like focus when looking in the mirror). Other compulsions can include covering up the flaws, attempting to appear more muscular, rituals with clothing (avoiding, frequently changing) and assurance seeking related to appearance.
The treatment for BDD is cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) including the following components: exposure to the situations that trigger the obsessions while refraining from compulsions (ERP treatment), developing new thoughts related to body image (challenge old ones, mindfulness to thoughts), and learning to expand attention to one’s whole self rather than only the flaws.
General Anxiety Disorder
Social Anxiety Disorder
SAD includes worry related to being around others. There may be extreme fears of embarrassment or humiliation around others and often avoidant behavior in social situations: avoiding eye contact, hanging back, worrying about perceptions others have of oneself.
Treatment for SAD is cognitive behavior therapy that focuses on disputing thinking errors and exposure to avoided social situations.
|Persistent Depressive Disorder:||Ongoing low level of depression that can include the following symptoms: hopelessness, worthlessness, negative thoughts, low energy, loss of interest, isolation, and changes in sleep or appetite.|
|Major Depressive Disorder:||Severe depressive symptoms that occur nearly every day for at least two weeks.|
|Bipolar ||Extreme mood swings of emotional highs (mania or hypomania) and lows (depression). Mood swings interfere with sleep, energy, thoughts, judgment, and activities.|
|Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder:||For children up to 18 years old who experience extreme irritability, anger, and frequent outbursts.|