What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder - PTSD?

Learn more about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and how to receive the proper PTSD treatment.

Table of Contents

Overview of PTSD

People typically have negative reactions to traumatic events that can last weeks, months, and even years. If the reactions are extremely severe, they may be classified as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). People with PTSD are known to have nightmares, flashbacks, and feelings of overwhelming anxiety.

What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is characterized by a person’s lasting adverse reactions due to a traumatic event that occurred at some point in their lives.

What Does Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Do to a Person?

Post-traumatic stress disorder can potentially result in the following symptoms:
  • Nightmares
  • Flashbacks
  • Avoidance of anything that reminds the person of the event
  • Severe anxiety and distrust
  • Loss of interest in the things you once enjoyed
  • Withdrawal from society
  • Feelings of extreme anxiety and fear
  • Guilt that you may be responsible for the incident
  • Self-destructive behavior 
  • Insomnia

How Common in PTSD?

According to the National Center for PTSD, about seven or eight of every one hundred people will experience post-traumatic stress disorder at some point in their lives.1

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Causes and Risk Factors

While the foundational cause of all cases is post-traumatic stress disorder is some form of trauma, there is a wide range of events that can be categorized as “traumatic,” and these events may affect each person differently. There are also common risk factors that increase the likelihood of an individual receiving a PTSD diagnosis.

What Causes PTSD?

There is a wide range of events that can cause a person to develop post-traumatic stress disorder. PTSD causes can include traumatic events such as:
  • Physical, sexual, and psychological abuse
  • Neglect
  • Car accidents
  • Witnessing or being involved in a violent crime
  • Natural disasters
  • War
  • Bullying
  • Death of a parent or close family membe

PTSD Risk Factors

You will be more likely to develop post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms if you:
  • Already suffer from some form of mental illness
  • Have a family history of mental illness
  • Are dealing with ongoing stressors in your life
  • Are lacking social support
  • Have poor coping skills

Diagnosis and Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

There are four main groups of PTSD symptoms to look out for. These include:
  • Intrusion symptoms: Intrusion symptoms are unwanted upsetting memories that come in the form of flashbacks and nightmares. The five types of intrusive symptoms include distressing memories, emotional cue distress, psychological cue reactivity, distressing dreams, and flashbacks.2
  • Avoidance symptoms: These involve avoiding anything that could potentially remind you of the event, including people, places, objects, and activities. 
  • Arousal and reactivity symptoms: Arousal and reactive symptoms are constant and include feelings of anger, stress, and fear. A person with these post-traumatic stress symptoms may startle easily and have difficulty sleeping and concentrating.
  • Cognition and mood symptoms: Cognitive and mood symptoms of PTSD are also ongoing. They include anxiety, depression, anger, guilt, and withdrawal. People with PTSD will have difficulty trusting others and being happy

How is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Diagnosed?

A PTSD diagnosis involves the following steps:
  • A physical exam: Your doctor will perform a physical exam to look for conditions that may be causing your symptoms and eliminate other possible causes.
  • A psychological evaluation: The diagnosis of PTSD will require a psychological evaluation. A medical health provider will discuss your signs and symptoms and the events causing them.
  • Consulting the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Health Disorders (DSM-5): The DSM-5 is published by the American Psychiatric Association and holds the criteria by which mental illnesses are diagnosed.3

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Treatment

PTSD treatment usually requires a multi-faceted approach of medications and psychotherapy.


Antidepressants can be effective in PTSD treatment. They come in the form of SNRIs (serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors) and SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors). Although various medications may work, the ones that are specifically recommended include:4
  • Sertraline (Zoloft) 
  • Paroxetine (Paxil)
  • Fluoxetine (Prozac)
  • Venlafaxine (Effexor)


There are several types of psychotherapy recommended for PTSD treatment. These include:
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT aims to change unhealthy thought processes to yield healthier behavior.
  • Prolonged exposure: Prolonged exposure allows the person to relive the trauma in a safe environment to minimize the negative reactions it can cause.
  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy: EMDR encourages patients to focus on the trauma while experiencing bilateral stimulation (typically eye movements) aimed to reduce the vividness of traumatic memories.
  • Narrative exposure therapy (NET): NET allows patients to come up with their own narrative of the traumatic event. It aims to help the person recapture their self-respect.

Get Help for PTSD at Soledad House

There are many facilities that offer post-traumatic stress disorder treatment, but Soledad House takes an approach that sets us apart. Here’s what we have to offer.

What PTSD Treatment Looks Likes

At Soledad House, we understand that many patients self-medicate to deal with their PTSD symptoms. They may be reluctant to get help due to stigmas, financial or time limitations, or they may not think their problem is that serious. They may turn to drugs and alcohol to relieve their symptoms, which begins a vicious cycle of addiction.

Soledad House simultaneously addresses addiction and PTSD with a three-part plan that includes:

  • Detox: The first step of treatment of PTSD and addiction is detox, which allows time for the illicit substances to leave a person’s body. The patient will typically experience withdrawal symptoms, but staff will oversee the process to keep them as comfortable as possible and see to it that relapse doesn’t occur.
  • Therapy: We take a dual diagnosis approach that simultaneously addresses addiction and its underlying cause. We offer a variety of programs and strategies including 12-Step, inpatient, outpatient, and more.
  • Aftercare: The PTSD treatment plan does not end when patients graduate from our facility. We continue to provide them with support to ensure they maintain sobriety.

Contact Us Today

Soledad House is a recovery center for women in San Diego, CA. We understand PTSD symptoms in women, and we can help you achieve the health and happiness you deserve. Contact us today to find out how to leave your dependency issues behind you.