Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that may develop after an event that is experienced or witnessed, and involves actual or perceived threat to life or physical integrity. The person's emotional reaction to this event is characterized by horror, terror or helplessness. People with PTSD have three major types of symptoms, which typically relate to:
Re-experience of the trauma
Avoidance of trauma reminders
The symptoms of PTSD are common right after traumatic events, but for most trauma survivors, these symptoms decrease over time through natural recovery. However, for some people, the PTSD symptoms stay on, become chronic, and interfere with daily functioning.
Cognitive Therapy for PTSD
Cognitive therapy for PTSD involves carefully and gradually "exposing" the client to thoughts, feeling and situations that remind him/her of the trauma. Therapy also involves identifying upsetting thoughts about the traumatic event - particularly thoughts that are distorted and irrational - and replacing them with more accurate thoughts and compassionate perspectives. The client is also taught self-regulation strategies to deal with flashbacks, feelings of helplessness, and rage.