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PTSD, Trauma, Stress & Anxiety :: BMAD

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder can be a heavy burden that destroys your sense of self, threatens your marriage, creates chronic anger and "attitude" and is part of the foundation that supports the development of addictive disease. BMAD specializes in the treatment of PTSD, anxiety and stress. Our clinical staff have helped hundreds of individuals greatly reduce the impact of trauma and stress. We treat many different types of stress and anxiety including physical abuse, verbal abuse, sexual abuse, domestic violence, trauma induced by such things as the World Trade Center disaster, Oklahoma City disaster, war, and natural disasters such as hurricanes, and floods.

Few people realize the extent of psychological pain associated with trauma. Trauma is capable of robbing you of everything that makes life worthwhile. PTSD is associated with suicide and can be an accurate predictor of suicidal ideation.

Through years of research, 17 PTSD symptoms have been identified. These symptoms are listed in the 4th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (or DSM-IV). These 17 symptoms are divided into three separate clusters. The three PTSD symptom clusters, and the specific symptoms that make up these clusters, are described below.

Re-Experiencing Symptom

·       Frequently having upsetting thoughts or memories about a traumatic event.

·       Having recurrent nightmares.

·       Acting or feeling as though the traumatic event were happening again, sometimes called a "flashback."

·       Having very strong feelings of distress when reminded of the traumatic event.

·       Being physically responsive, such as experiencing a surge in your heart rate or sweating, to reminders of the traumatic event.

Avoidance Symptoms

·       Making an effort to avoid thoughts, feelings, or conversations about the traumatic event.

·       Making an effort to avoid places or people that remind you of the traumatic event.

·       Having a difficult time remembering important parts of the traumatic event.

·       A loss of interest in important, once positive, activities.

·       Feeling distant from others.

·       Experiencing difficulties having positive feelings, such as happiness or love.

·       Feeling as though your life may be cut short.

Hyperarousal Symptoms

·       Having a difficult time falling or staying asleep.

·       Feeling more irritable or having outbursts of anger.

·       Having difficulty concentrating.

·       Feeling constantly "on guard" or like danger is lurking around every corner.

·       Being "jumpy" or easily startled.

BMAD and  CPT Therapy for victims of sexual abuse
What is the origin of cognitive processing therapy for sexual assault survivors?

Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) combines information processing theory and knowledge gleaned from prolonged exposure treatments that have been effective in alleviating PTSD in survivors of other traumas. In particular, CPT draws upon an information processing theory of PTSD that proposes that information about a traumatic event is stored in the brain in "fear networks." These networks consist of memories of traumatic stimuli and responses along with their meanings. The entire network is designed to stimulate avoidance behavior in the trauma survivor to prevent future threat to survival. Unfortunately, as researchers have discovered, these "fear networks" seem to be responsible for a set of beliefs or expectations (schemata) of trauma survivors that causes them to have an attentional bias toward evidence of threat, ambiguous or otherwise, and to disregard evidence to the contrary. Such attention to cues of threat serves to trigger typical fear responses of escape and avoidance, and seems to account for the re-experiencing phenomena of PTSD.

How rape survivors interpret the trauma (the meaning or cognitive appraisal of the event) effects subsequent reactions to the experience. Studies have found that rape survivors who experience conflict between their prior beliefs and the rape experience are more likely to have more severe reactions to the rape and to have more difficulty recovering. Examples of schema conflicts are "Rape doesn't happen to nice women", a prior belief that the situation in which an assault occurred had been safe, or that the victim was somehow particularly invulnerable to crime. As a result of such schema conflicts, feelings of shame, guilt, humiliation, anger, betrayal, anxiety and especially confusion are commonly seen in sexual assault survivors with PTSD.

Information processing theory explains that in an attempt to resolve schema conflicts caused by a traumatic event such as a rape, survivors respond by:

    1. Assimilating the new, albeit horrific, information into their existing belief system by altering the event (e.g., "Maybe it wasn't a rape" or "I must have done something bad that brought this on, because good people don't get raped"), or
    2. Accommodating their prior beliefs to the traumatic experience. The statement "Sometimes bad things happen to good people" exemplifies a healthy accommodation. Oftentimes rape survivors in situations without good social support or guidance make accommodations that are maladaptive and extreme, such as "No one can be trusted" or "I can never be safe".
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