Post-traumatic Stress Disorder is an anxiety disorder which occurs after a person has personally experienced or witnessed a dangerous and life-threatening event. Individuals who are at risk for developing PTSD include but are not limited to: Soldiers who have been in combat, survivors or witnesses of violent crimes (including rape, kidnapping, robbery, etc.), individuals who have lived through a natural disaster, survivors of accidents or grave illness.
These events can cause lasting psychological symptoms, including the following (taken from the National Institute for Mental Health Website--www.nimh.nih.gov): 1) Re-experiencing symptoms: Flashbacks—reliving the trauma over and over, including physical symptoms like a racing heart or sweating Bad dreams Frightening thoughts. 2) Avoidance symptoms: Staying away from places, events, or objects that are reminders of the experience Feeling emotionally numb Feeling strong guilt, depression, or worry Losing interest in activities that were enjoyable in the past Having trouble remembering the dangerous event. Things that remind a person of the traumatic event can trigger avoidance symptoms. These symptoms may cause a person to change his or her personal routine. For example, after a bad car accident, a person who usually drives may avoid driving or riding in a car. 3) Hyperarousal symptoms: Being easily startled Feeling tense or “on edge” Having difficulty sleeping, and/or having angry outbursts. Hyperarousal symptoms may make it hard to do daily tasks, such as sleeping, eating, or concentrating. At the Rochester Center for Behavioral Medicine, PTSD is treated with a combination of cognitive-behavioral therapy and medications (when necessary). This effective approach can help individuals with PTSD to identify situations that trigger their “fight or flight” response. Using the cognitive-behavioral techniques of flooding and systematic desensitization, the therapist and patient can work together to safely reintroduce situations that have become too anxiety-provoking for the patient. Over time, irritability, flashbacks and nightmares will subside and the patient is able to return to their pre-trauma functionality. Treating PTSD is a rewarding experience for our clinicians, as long-term success is highly achievable and patient transformation is astounding to watch.
RCBM is currently involved in clinical trials on the following research topics: