PTSD

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder is a subtype of the anxiety disorders that develops when a person has been exposed to a traumatic/terrifying event – either experiencing it or witnessing it. 

While it is very normal to have difficulty adjusting and coping after a terrifying event (a car accident, perhaps), most people usually get better with time and self-care.  However, for some, especially those who have been exposed to repeated traumatic events (soldiers, first responders, sexual or physical abuse survivors, etc.), PTSD may develop.  PTSD lasts for months or even years after the trauma, and it interferes with your daily functioning.

Symptoms include:

Intrusive Memories

  • Unwanted and distressing memories of the event(s)
  • Flashbacks where the you re-experience the event as if it were happening in the present
  • Nightmares
  • Reactions (physical or emotional) to a triggering event which reminds you of the original trauma.

Avoidance

  • Physically avoiding people, places or things/activities that remind you of the traumatic event(s)
  • Not speaking about the event(s) or trying hard not to think of the event(s)

Negative thoughts and mood

  • Feeling emotionally numb
  • Memory problems for parts of the traumatic event(s)
  • Hopelessness for the future
  • Trouble building or maintaining close relationships
  • Difficulty feeling positive emotions

Changes in physical or emotional reactions

  • Angry or aggressive outbursts or generally more irritable
  • Overwhelming feelings of shame or guilt
  • Exaggerated startle response or easily frightened
  • Hyper-vigilance (always on guard)
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Trouble concentrating

Treatment Options

Neurofeedback

PTSD causes changes in the limbic system in the brain causing hyper-arousal.  Neurofeedback trains the brain to regulate the overworked stress response which leads to increased physical and mental calmness.  Neurofeedback helps the brain relax while helping to process normal sensory information as nonthreatening.  Additionally, clients have reported being able to make sense of their traumatic experience without re-experiencing the limbic “fight, flight, or freeze” response.  This allows the traumatic event to be placed in the past rather than continuing to respond as if it is  happening in the present. 

Counseling

Bloomington Neurofeedback offers a safe, caring environment in which to find healing through talk therapy that includes interventions such as Cognitive Behavioral and Exposure Therapy. 

Another highly recommended, evidence-based treatment for PTSD is Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR).   EMDR uses eye movements or bilateral stimulations (gentle buzzers placed in each hand) to help put the trauma in the past.  While Bloomington Neurofeedback does not offer EMDR, we can help you find a practitioner who is skilled in EMDR and work with them for continuity of care.

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