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Types of PTSD

Types of PTSDAfter the Vietnam War, the awareness of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) was greatly increased in American society. Many veterans experienced intense emotions that impacted their behaviors and disrupted their ability to acclimate back into society. They were struggling with the ability to maintain employment, engage in meaningful relationships, and were turning to drugs and alcohol in an attempt to find some relief.

While the awareness of PTSD may have increased, a historical review shows that this condition has always existed. For the past several decades, many organizations, including the American Psychiatric Association, have delved further into understanding PTSD in an effort to formulate treatment options to assist people who suffer with it.

Causes of PTSD

PTSD is most often associated with the way a person responds to war, terrorism, violence, abuse, and disasters. If the person’s response involves intense fear, helplessness, or horror, they may be affected by PTSD. Not everyone who has experienced a traumatic event suffers with PTSD so research continues to look at factors such as pre-traumatic psychological state and post-traumatic reaction.

Types of PTSD

PTSD is categorized into five major types:

  • Normal stress response is a single traumatic event that happens in a healthy adult’s life that causes them to experience bad memories, emotional numbing, and a sense of unreality that results in a person being distant from relationships and feeling physical tension. This type of PTSD is often treated with counseling sessions designed to allow the person to explore the experience and identify effective coping strategies.
  • Acute stress disorder presents with panic, mental confusion, dissociation, insomnia, and a general suspiciousness. Lasting for several weeks, a person is unable to manage basic self care, work, and relationship activities. The most common treatment for acute stress disorder is to remove the person from the scene of the trauma, provide short-term medication support for anxiety, insomnia, or other psychological reactions, and then provide psychotherapy to assist the person in healing.
  • Uncomplicated PTSD is similar to acute stress disorder except that the person’s feelings and behaviors associated with the traumatic event persist for an extended period of time. Correspondingly, the treatment needs to persist as well, therefore, the most common approach is extended therapy with different therapeutic models.
  • Comorbid PTSD is usually associated with at least one other major psychiatric disorder such as depression, alcohol or substance abuse, panic disorder, and other anxiety disorders. The most effective treatment for this type of PTSD is an integrated treatment approach for the Dual Diagnosis.
  • Complex PTSD often occurs in people who have experienced trauma over an extended period of time and are diagnosed with borderline or antisocial personality disorder or dissociative disorders. The treatment takes much longer, may progress at a slower rate, and requires a structured treatment program delivered by specialists.

Regardless of the type of PTSD a person experiences, getting help as soon as possible and receiving treatment for as long as necessary are important contributors to successfully managing PTSD.

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