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Working Through Trauma and PTSD

To kick off this discussion, we want to make two important points about trauma: 1) About 70% of American adults have experienced at least one traumatic event; and 2) Trauma is a risk factor in most behavioral and substance use disorders. In fact, trauma is directly responsible for one of the more common mental health issues — post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which has a lifetime prevalence of nearly 7%.

If you’re among the millions who are struggling with unresolved trauma and/or PTSD, the third, and most important,  point we want to make is that there is help. Here at the Institute for Advanced Psychiatry, Dr. Diana Ghelber and the team have successfully helped many patients to reclaim their lives from trauma and its aftermath. 

Here’s a look at some of your many options.

The impact of trauma and PTSD 

Research is ongoing about the effects of trauma on a person and how the brain reacts. We’ve identified key areas of your brain that are involved when there’s traumatic stress or PTSD, such as your hippocampus, amygdala, and medial prefrontal cortex. There are also chemicals that play a role, namely cortisol (a stress hormone) and norepinephrine.

What we haven’t figured out is why some people develop side effects from trauma while others don’t. From depression and anxiety to recurring nightmares and personality changes, trauma can play out for years after the event(s) and lead to behavioral issues and interfere with a person’s ability to lead a productive and happy life. 

Even if your traumatic stress or PTSD isn’t strong and only presents itself in the form of occasional intrusive thoughts or some degree of avoidance (you steer clear of people, places, and things associated with your trauma), it still has an impact.

Moving past your trauma

As mental health specialists, our goal is to help you process the trauma in a healthy way so that you can move on with your life without the constant shadow.

To start, we recommend psychotherapies, including talk therapies that help you to process and integrate the trauma. Simply discussing the trauma in a safe environment rather than keeping it locked away is often a great start to releasing its grip. We also turn to cognitive behavioral therapy, which helps you target negative thinking and change course.

In addition to these therapies, we can also try medications, such as antidepressants, that can help manage the symptoms.

We’ve also had great success using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to reduce symptoms of PTSD and traumatic stress. TMS is gaining traction as an effective way to treat a number of different mental health disorders, such as depression and PTSD. In fact, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has been using TMS, with good success, for treating PTSD. 

While studies are ongoing about the TMS and its potential in unlocking a wide range of mental health disorders, the research on its effect with PTSD is very encouraging. One analysis we’d like to cite here states that TMS, “Was widely demonstrated to be safe and tolerable with significant and clinically meaningful reductions in core PTSD symptoms.”

At our practice, we’ve found that a combination of TMS and psychotherapy can help our clients break free of their trauma and live happier lives.

If you’d like to explore your treatment options for trauma and PTSD further, please contact us at the Institute for Advanced Psychiatry in Granbury or Fort Worth, Texas, to schedule an appointment.

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