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Signs and Symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

June marks PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) month. PTSD is a serious mental health condition that can develop after someone experiences or witnesses a traumatic event. While it’s often associated with veterans, it can affect anyone who has gone through acute or chronic trauma. 

PTSD can affect anyone regardless of age, gender, or ethnicity. According to the National Center for PTSD, 7-8% of the U.S. population will experience PTSD at some point in their lives, and women are more likely to develop PTSD than men, with a prevalence rate of about 10% in women compared to 4% in men.

Those most prone to PTSD

  • Military personnel/veterans

  • Even those who have/do not engage in active combat can be impacted by prolonged stress, survival training, and witnessing violence 

  • Victims of trauma

  • This can include survivors of abuse, accidents, natural disasters, innocent witnesses of violence (such as  survivors of terrorist attacks), refugees, and more

  • First responders

  • Police officers, firefighters, EMS, and medical personnel who frequently encounter victims of trauma can be impacted by exposure to chronic stress

The most common signs and symptoms of PTSD

  • Reliving a traumatic experience through flashbacks, nightmares, or intrusive thoughts 

  • Avoidant behaviors such as staying away from triggering places, activities, or scents that bring back memories of the trauma, or avoidance of the emotions associated with PTSD symptoms through “numbing” by detaching from others, abusing substances, and more

  • High reactivity can also be a sign, including hypervigilance, irritability, and insomnia

Less common signs and symptoms of PTSD

Each of these symptoms could be explained by other natural physiological conditions and should be evaluated by a licensed medical professional. 

  • Chronic pain or digestive issues (IBS, stomach ulcers) 

  • Dissociation, depersonalization, or derealization 

  • Cognitive disruptions such as issues with memory or persistently negative/anxious thought patterns 

  • Engaging in high-risk/reckless behaviors or social withdrawal and isolation 

Man on a leather couch looking stressed due to PTSD - finding relief at Freedom Ketamine Treatment Centers

How we usually treat PTSD

The most commonly-recommended (and first line of treatment) for this condition is traditional talk therapy, which can utilize diverse techniques and modalities, based on your provider. Cognitive behavioral therapy, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), and exposure therapy are all regularly-recommended techniques. Some practitioners may recommend a course of SSRIs as well, or engaging in group therapy, seeking in-patient treatment, and alternative methods to be used in addition to talk therapy, such as ketamine infusion therapy or stellate ganglion blocks. 

Ketamine infusion therapy for PTSD

Unlike traditional antidepressants that may take weeks or months to show benefits, ketamine infusion therapy can alleviate PTSD symptoms within hours. When administered intravenously in a controlled medical office, it helps to form new neural connections, which is believed to help "reset" the brain's response to traumatic memories and reduce symptoms such as severe depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation. In our offices, based in the DC Metropolitan area, ketamine sessions can be booked alongside your usual talk therapist to allow for processing trauma during or following an infusion. 

Stellate Ganglion blocks for PTSD 

Stellate Ganglion Blocks (SGB) are an anesthetic injection into the stellate ganglion (a collection of nerves in the neck) which is part of the sympathetic nervous system. SGB has shown promise in treating PTSD by potentially "resetting" the overactive fight-or-flight response often seen in PTSD patients. By temporarily numbing these nerves, SGB can reduce anxiety, insomnia, and hypervigilance. The effects can be immediate and may last for weeks to months. In our offices, they’re performed under ultrasound supervision. 

PTSD is a complex and debilitating condition that requires treatment and support. If you’re ready to seek professional, cutting-edge help for your symptoms, contact Freedom Ketamine Treatment Centers today. With six offices throughout the DMV, our compassionate care team is ready to support your healing journey with ketamine infusion therapy or stellate ganglion blocks. Learn more about our practice and philosophy here.

The image in this post is by Nik Shuliahin.

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