If you have severe, disturbing feelings and thoughts around a horrifying incident that persist long after the traumatic event ceased, you may be experiencing signs of post-traumatic stress disorder. It affects about 3.5 percent of U.S. adults every year, but its symptoms are treatable with therapy or new, innovative treatments like ketamine infusion therapy.
WHAT IS PTSD?
“Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric disorder that may occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a natural disaster or a serious accident.
PTSD has been known by many names in the past, such as “shell shock” during the years of World War I and “combat fatigue” after World War II, but PTSD does not just happen to combat veterans. PTSD can occur in all people, of any ethnicity, nationality or culture, and at any age.”
DO I REALLY HAVE PTSD?
Every person handles trauma differently than someone else. Signs appear anytime from a month to years following an event. Symptoms differ by person:
- You could be re-experiencing trauma through feelings, flashbacks, nightmares, distressing frequent images, physical sensations like trembling, pain, or illness.
- Numbing your emotions and avoiding them prohibits reminders of a person, event, or place. You occupy yourself with a job or hobbies. When you withdraw from feelings, you’re susceptible to loneliness and isolation.
- You may feel edgy all the time, experiencing periods of irritability, lack of focus, angry outbursts directed outward or inward, and eating or sleeping issues.
WHAT TO SAY AT A PTSD EXAM?
The best strategy for a PTSD exam, whether you’re a veteran or civilian suffering in its grip, is to be truthful. Telling the truth may be difficult through no fault of your own – given your mental wellness and overall health – but your chances of receiving benefits through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) or the U.S. Social Security Administration increases exponentially based on the strength of the evidence presented through medical and psychological test results.
PTSD EXAM FOR CIVILIANS
More than 5 million people in the United States suffer from PTSD, including a large percentage of civilians. If you experience any of the symptoms of a mental health illness, your diagnosis can only be made after the following steps:
- A physical examination by a medical doctor or other licensed professional.
- A mental health evaluation performed by a psychiatrist, psychologist, or other licensed mental health professional.
Finally, your test results – either by a medical doctor or mental health professional – will be compared to criteria established by the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5).
PTSD EXAM FOR VETERANS
If you’re a U.S. military veteran seeking benefits from the VA for a PTSD diagnosis, the department limits the number of licensed professionals who can administer your exam to a board-certified or “board-eligible” psychiatrist, a licensed doctorate-level psychologist, or another doctorate-level mental health professional or licensed social worker. More details are available from the VA.
The exam will look at several components related to your mental and overall well being:
- Review of Medical Records
- Medical History since last exam – including hospitalizations, outpatient care, instances and severity of medical disorders or psychological symptoms
- Psychosocial Adjustment since the last exam – such as legal history and educational performance
- Mental Status Examination – aimed at screening for DSM-IV mental disorders
- Assessment of PTSD — identify affective, behavioral, cognitive, social, or somatic symptoms
- Psychometric Testing Results
- Diagnosis – confirmed by DSM-IV
- Diagnostic Status – Axis I-V disorders
- Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF)
- Capacity to Manage Financial Affairs – related only to VA benefit payments
- Other Opinion – explain this and the rationale behind it
- Integrated Summary and Conclusions
- Effects of PTSD on Occupational and Social Functioning
Once you’ve been diagnosed, the first treatment your doctor will likely recommend is some form of psychotherapy or self-help. If neither helps relieve symptoms of PTSD, your doctor could offer a combination of therapy or medicine, including treatments such as ketamine infusion therapy. Ketamine has shown promise in treating symptoms of mental illness. Researchers think it relieves chemical imbalances in the brain and improves neurotransmitter functionality.
PTSD is a serious mental health illness that affects millions of people of any nationality, ethnicity, or culture, and at all age groups. With psychotherapy and drugs like ketamine, many people have learned to manage their symptoms and lead productive lives. Different patients require unique treatment, so ask your doctor or mental health provider about which options are best suited for your symptoms. Be sure to ask about the benefits and risks of each treatment.
If you or a loved one are dealing with the symptoms of PTSD we can help. Contact us today to learn more about the clinical use of ketamine to help treat PTSD.