Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health disorder that is triggered by a terrifying event. This disorder is characterized by flashbacks, severe anxiety, nightmares, and uncontrollable thoughts related to this event that were either personally experienced or witnessed.

Most people who witness or experience a traumatic event may have temporary difficulty coping with fear and anxiety associated with the traumatic event. Still, these individuals will usually overcome their fear and anxiety with time and healthy coping skills. Post-traumatic stress disorder affects approximately eight to ten percent of individuals throughout their lifetime or 7.7 million American adults.

Post-Traumatic Stress Injury

Post-traumatic stress injury (PTSI) is a mental health condition that can develop in individuals who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event. PTSI is a natural response to a traumatic experience but can become chronic if not addressed properly. Some common symptoms of PTSI include flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety, and avoidance of situations that trigger memories of the traumatic event. Individuals with PTSI may also experience feelings of guilt, shame, isolation, and difficulties with concentration and sleep.


It is important to note that PTSI is different from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which is a diagnostic category recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). While both PTSI and PTSD involve symptoms related to traumatic experiences, PTSI is a more inclusive term that recognizes the full spectrum of responses to trauma. The term PTSI is also preferred by some individuals and advocates because it places the emphasis on the injury rather than the disorder and is seen as less stigmatizing than the term “disorder.”

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Signs and symptoms associated with PTSD

Treatment for PTSD, how we can help

Treatment for PTSD revolves around reducing or eliminating the underlying triggers and stress associated with PTSD. This is a highly treatable mental health condition and is best done with a combination of medication, psychotherapy, and the development of healthy coping skills. Untreated PTSD can cause significant impairment in everyday life and can potentially result in worsening psychiatric conditions, self-harm behavior, and even suicidal ideations.

AKUA Mind & Body PTSD Treatment Program

AKUA Behavioral Health is a full-service treatment program that offers a wide range of “east meets west” treatment modalities for many different populations struggling with PTSD and other mental health and substance use disorders. We offer both intensive residential programs as well as outpatient treatment. AKUA Behavioral Health works diligently with each client and their family to ensure that their PTSD treatment plan is specifically tailored to their needs, and not just their disorder. 

Complex PTSD

Complex post-traumatic stress disorder, also known as CPTSD is similar to PTSD. Instead of witnessing or experiencing one traumatic event, the individual is exposed to repeated trauma over months or years.

Signs and symptoms of CPTSD include those of PTSD with some additional symptoms, which include the following:

What causes PTSD?

Although many veterans may have post-traumatic stress disorder (approximately 30% of individuals who have spent time in combat develop PTSD), this diagnosis can affect anyone who undergoes or witnesses a traumatic experience. The following are traumatic experiences that have been associated with PTSD

Natural disasters such as a fire, earthquakes, hurricane

A deadly pandemic

Physical abuse

Sexual assault

Refugee camps

Terrorist attacks

Witnessing a death

Traumatic accident or injury

The unexpected loss of a loved one

Who is at risk for developing PTSD?

PTSD treatment: how we can help

Treatment for PTSD includes both medication management and psychotherapy approaches. It is important to identify and treat any co-occurring disorder associated with PTSD, as many individuals will turn to drug use and alcohol to mask their PTSD symptoms and are at higher risk of developing depression and anxiety. 

The following are psychotherapy approaches used to help treat PTSD:

The goal of therapy is for the individual to be able to remember the trauma without the emotional charge that once accompanied the event. By separating the traumatic event from a wide range of negative emotions, the individual can live a healthier life without the intrusion of flashbacks, nightmares, fear, and distressing thoughts.

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