Hyper-arousal symptoms are usually what bring an individual into treatment. The person seeks treatment for his disabling and relentless symptoms of anxiety or panic attacks. Hyper-arousal symptoms are the most bothersome symptoms for both the individual and the family. Increased arousal symptoms include the following: hypervigilance, agitation, difficulty concentrating, feeling sweaty and shaky, shortness of breath, heart pounding, watchfulness, wariness, irritability, outbursts of anger, insomnia, and being easily startled.
What Are Other Common Problems Associated With PTSD?
PTSD is associated with a significantly increased risk of co-occurring psychiatric disorders.
Co-occurring Disorder Statistics with PTSD
- 88% will meet the criteria for another psychiatric disorder
- 52% will abuse or become dependent on alcohol
- 48% will experience major depressive episodes
- 43% will experience conduct disorders
- 35% will abuse or become dependent on drugs
- 79% will meet the criteria for another psychiatric disorder
- 49% will experience major depressive episodes
- 29% will experience simple phobias
- 29% will experience social phobias
- 28% will abuse or become dependent on alcohol
Individuals with PTSD frequently feel depressed, desperate, hopeless, helpless, and become suicidal. They may lose previously established important beliefs. They can become frequently angry and/or aggressive towards themselves or others. Many experience significant problems in regards to relationships, employment, and with law enforcement. Some may blame themselves for the traumatic event, and experience deep shame and/or guilt. Or they may retreat into complete social isolation, unable to feel close or trust anyone again.
How is PTSD Treated?
PTSD is generally treated by a variety of forms of psychotherapy and medication. Cognitive processing therapy involves writing about the event, and with the help of the therapist, trying to understand what happened and why the individual has reacted the way he has. Prolonged exposure therapy involves telling, retelling, and listening to accounts about the traumatic event. Eye-movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy (EMDR) involves exposure to mental images of the trauma while moving the individual’s eyes back and forth. Group therapy may also be beneficial. The most widely used drug treatments for PTSD are the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, such as Pazil and Zoloft. Benzodiazepines (Valium, Xanax, Ativan) are approved for the treatment of anxiety disorders, and are often useful adjuncts to antidepressants. Prazosin is helpful for treating nightmares. If there are psychotic symptoms (which happens in 30% of all individuals with PTSD) Risperdal, Seroquel, Zyprexa, Abilify or Geodone may be prescribed.
What is the Prognosis for People with PTSD?
Not every traumatized person develops full-blown or even minor PTSD. There is no definitive cure for PTSD. However, most people who develop PTSD do get better at some time. One half will have remission of their symptoms within three months to a year. But about 1/3rd of individuals with PTSD may continue to have some symptoms for years. In some cases the condition becomes chronic. Debriefing after a traumatic event can promote a better prognosis.
Even if you never develop PTSD, someone you know, or someone on some call will. Recognize the symptoms and encourage them to seek treatment. Early identification of PTSD and treatment is essential for the individual’s total physical, psychological, and social well-being.