What Is PTSD?

By: Stuart Porter, NP


Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is a disorder that develops in response to experiencing a traumatic event. About 7-8% of the population experience post-traumatic stress disorder at some point in their life. Approximately 10% of women and 4% of men are affected. What is post-traumatic stress disorder though? Continue reading to learn more about this debilitating disorder. 

Causes of PTSD 

The cause of post-traumatic stress disorder is witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event. There are many different events that can lead to the developing of post-traumatic stress disorder. Here are some examples: 

  • Combat/war 
  • Terrorist attacks 
  • Car accident 
  • Violent or unexpected death 
  • Kidnapping 
  • Physical, sexual, or emotional abuse 
  • Natural disasters 

These are not the only causes of post-traumatic stress disorder, any terrifying or disturbing event can cause this disorder. It is important to note that people are affected differently, and while some events may not seem “as bad” they can still cause a damaging effect on someone. 

Post-traumatic stress disorder is common in military veterans as well as abuse survivors, especially because their traumatic event was ongoing instead of a one-time incident. This does not invalidate anyone else who experiences post-traumatic stress disorder. 

Symptoms of PTSD 

There are many different symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, one of the most well-known being flashbacks. Here is a list of some of the symptoms


  • Hyper-vigilance 
  • Self-destructive behavior 
  • Social Isolation 
  • Irritability, agitation, hostility


  • Loneliness 
  • Guilt 
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities


  • Nightmares 
  • Insomnia


  • Flashbacks 
  • Anxiety 
  • Fear 
  • Mistrust 

Other common symptoms included emotional detachment, avoidance, heightened reactions, or unwanted thoughts/memories.  

Treatment for PTSD 

There are multiple treatment options for post-traumatic stress disorder, such as therapies, medications, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), and ketamine therapy. 


Many therapies for post-traumatic stress disorder are a form of cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT. There are three main goals in post-traumatic stress disorder therapy: improve symptoms, learn coping skills, and regain self-esteem. The main idea of cognitive behavioral therapy is to change thought patterns, such as changing negative patterns into positive ones.  

Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) 

This form of therapy is a 12-week course, with weekly sessions of 60-90 minutes. During the therapy, you will discuss the traumatic event and how it affects you, then write about it in detail in order to closely examine the trauma and how to live with it. 

Prolonged Exposure Therapy (PE) 

Prolonged exposure therapy includes 8-15 sessions of 90 minutes each. The goal of this therapy is to lessen fear or anxiety as well as stopping avoidance behavior. This therapy can include learning skills such as controlling your breathing as well as talking about the trauma. 

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EDMR) 

This treatment includes approximately 3 months of weekly treatment. In this therapy, you may or may not have to talk about your trauma. Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing focuses on training you to think something positive when remembering trauma. During treatment, you concentrate on something such as a moving hand or a sound. 

Stress Inoculation Training (SIT) 

SIT is a treatment that lasts approximately 3 months. This treatment can be performed in a one-on-one or group environment. The goal of this treatment is changing how to deal with stress from the trauma, this means you will not have to go into detail about the event. Skills such as breathing techniques or massaging are taught in order to stop or reduce stress. 


Seeing a psychiatrist to prescribe medication is another treatment option for post-traumatic stress disorder. These medications can help prevent thinking of the event as well as prevent reactions such as nightmares or flashbacks. Medication can also lead to a more positive outlook. 

The only medications approved for treating post-traumatic stress disorder are paroxetine and sertraline, however, doctors may prescribe other types of medications for the symptoms. These other medications may include antidepressants, antipsychotics (SGAs), beta-blockers, benzodiazepines, or monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). 

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) 

Transcranial magnetic stimulation is a non-invasive, pain-free treatment that involves placing a coil over your head that then sends a magnetic pulse through the head, causing stimulation in the brain. This treatment lasts 4-6 weeks with 30-minute sessions 5 days a week. Transcranial magnetic stimulation has been proven to work well on those with treatment-resistant mental illnesses or disorders. 

This treatment has only been approved for depression and anxiety, however it has shown promising results in lessening the burden of PTSD. Many people who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and went through transcranial magnetic stimulation reported a decrease in their symptoms. 

Ketamine Therapy 

This therapy, often combined with transcranial magnetic stimulation, has been shown to rapidly and significantly reduce symptoms in those with post-traumatic stress disorder. In ketamine therapy, you receive 6 infusions over a course of 2-3 weeks. The amount of treatment may be increased if symptoms are not improving after the 2nd or 3rd treatment.  

During ketamine therapy, you will receive an infusion via IV of ketamine. Ketamine therapy has been proven to work well on those with treatment-resistant mental illnesses or disorders. 

If you or a loved one is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, contact us at Serenity Mental Health Centers to come up with a treatment plan that will work for you. 

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*All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.