L. David Willison IV, MD, PhD

Psychiatrist located in Westwood, Los Angeles, CA

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) disrupts the lives of about one in 11 adults and is twice as common in women than men. Psychiatrist Dr.L. David Willison IV, MD, PhD, diagnoses and treats PTSD in children, adolescents, and adults at his private practice in Los Angeles. If you experience severe anxiety, flashbacks, or nightmares triggered by a terrifying event, call to book an appointment today.


What is post-traumatic stress disorder?

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric condition that can develop in people who have experienced or witnessed a frightening, shocking, or dangerous event. Examples of such events may include:

  • Natural disasters.
  • Serious accidents.
  • War or combat.
  • Sexual, physical, or emotional assault toward yourself or loved ones.

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. PTSD causes you to experience continued stress and fear for months or years past the traumatic event.

What are the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder?

Symptoms of PTSD usually begin within three months of the traumatic event, but sometimes they don’t appear until years later. PTSD symptoms are grouped into four main types:

Re-experiencing symptoms

These symptoms include intrusive thoughts or memories of the event. Re-experiencing symptoms may include:

  • Flashbacks.
  • Nightmares.
  • Recurrent, frightening thoughts.

Re-experiencing the event can trigger physical symptoms, such as a racing heartbeat or sweating.

Avoidance symptoms

Avoidance includes both staying away from places or objects that remind you of the traumatic experience as well as avoiding thoughts or feelings about the event. These symptoms may cause you to change your daily routine in order to avoid triggers.

Arousal and reactivity symptoms

Symptoms of arousal and reactivity include:

  • Being easily startled.
  • Anger outbursts.
  • Difficulty sleeping.
  • Feeling tense or on guard.

These symptoms are usually constant and don’t need to be triggered by a reminder of the traumatic event.

Cognition and mood symptoms

PTSD causes changes to mood and cognition that aren’t the result of an injury or substance abuse. Cognition symptoms include having trouble remembering key features of the traumatic event. Mood changes may involve distorted feelings of guilt and blame or trouble experiencing positive emotions.

What is the procedure for treating post-traumatic stress disorder?

Dr. Willison provides a combination of medication management and psychotherapy to treat PTSD. He specializes in cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) with exposure response prevention (ERP), as well as prolonged exposure therapy.

CBT helps you recognize unhealthy ways of thinking (cognitive patterns) while ERP helps you face frightening memories in a safe manner so that you can learn to effectively cope with them. Dr. Willison often combines these therapies to help patients control symptoms of PTSD.

If you think you may have PTSD, call the office of L. David Willison IV, MD, PhD, to book an appointment today.

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