Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) affects approximately 10% of adults. I have extensive experience treating PTSD in both my private practice, and as an Attending Psychiatrist the West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs Medical Center where I personally treat veterans with PTSD and teach psychiatry residents how to effectively treat PTSD (with psychotherapy and medications).
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric condition that can develop after people experience situations where they think they themselves, or their loved ones, are at imminent risk of dying or being killed. In the past, only soldiers with direct war and/or combat experience were thought to have an increased risk of developing PTSD. We now know that this is incorrect. People who witness or experience a terrifying threat such as the violent death of loved ones, actual or threatened serious injury to themselves or others (including physical, sexual and emotional violence) can cause PTSD. Other examples include:
It’s natural to feel fear and anxiety during and after one of these situations. However, most people recover from these symptoms on their own within a few weeks. PTSD causes you to experience continued stress and fear for months or years after the traumatic event.
What are the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder?
PTSD symptoms are grouped into the following categories. The symptoms must persist for more than 1 month after the traumatic experience. It's important to know that you do not need to have every symptom listed.
There are a handful of evidence-based treatments that are backed decades of clinical trials. These include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy with Exposure Response Prevention (CBT-ERP). CBT-ERP is by far the most evidenced-based treatment for PTSD (as well as for all the other anxiety disorders). But, in order for the "CBT" portion to be effective, the "ERP" must also happen - in fact study after study has shown that, by far, the most effective intervention for anxiety is ERP. Unfortunately, most providers omit the ERP.
Prolonged Exposure therapy (PE) and Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) are the other well studied psychotherapeutic treatments for PTSD.
I offer CBT and ERP, PE, CPT, along with medication management if appropriate to all of my PTSD patients. I treat PTSD patients from the age of about 8 years old through adulthood.