Anxiety Disorders


What is Posttraumatic Stress Disorder?

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, is a condition which can severely affect the amount of distress an individual experiences in relation to previous negative events. Individuals with PTSD can frequently recall or “reexperience” their trauma in intrusive ways. Intrusive memories, images, or thoughts can be easily triggered by stimuli in the environment and the individual can feel similarly to how they felt when the trauma was occurring. This intense reaction to a trigger can occur even though no actual threat may exist at the time. The symptoms can leave one feel confused, afraid, or even guilty and the feelings can occur very suddenly. 

How is PTSD Related to Anxiety?

Although PTSD shares several similarities with anxiety-related disorders, it is technically classified as part of a separate category of trauma-related disorders, according to the American Psychiatric Association. This change in classification took place in 2013. Fear, irritability, and anger can stem from PTSD and it can motivate individuals to avoid places or situations in which they can anticipate anxiety. Generally, individuals with PTSD can have more difficulty coping with the stress of their day-to-day life.

The Diagnosis of PTSD and Treatment Considerations

PTSD can be diagnosed by mental health providers (not only a psychologist) who are trained and experienced in recognizing symptoms, but testing with a psychologist (or another qualified examiner) can be crucial for many individuals. Individuals with PTSD can face additional barriers when attempting to benefit from common treatment options such as counseling or psychiatric medication. It may be more difficult for some individuals to quickly form a strong and trusting relationship with their provider. This may especially be the case in the initial phases of treatment (when the client is getting accustomed to the treatment process) or when trauma-related techniques are applied as part of the therapy. It also may be more difficult for these clients to cope with discussing certain aspects of their history which are important for a provider to understand.

How can Psychological Testing be Important for PTSD?

So, how can psychological testing help? It can be crucial to fully identify which symptoms of PTSD are impacting you. PTSD symptoms can co-occur with deficits in memory, attention, and how one experiences their environment, among other problems, and these deficits can often look like other disorders. Having a variety of methods (more than just asking you about symptoms) to obtain this data can aid in this process. Psychological testing can also work to guide treatment. Part of an evaluation can be devoted to analyzing how a client can best stick with treatment and benefit from therapeutic interventions. You can think of it as receiving personalized coaching about how to best go about the treatment process. Also, as it is especially important that you are treated by providers who are trained and experienced in decreasing PTSD symptoms, receiving personalized referrals of specialists can be helpful. Some treatments, such as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), may need to be delivered with extra consideration and testing can work to evaluate the risk of trauma-related treatments. 

Explore Related Topics:

What is Anxiety?
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
Social Anxiety Disorder
Panic Disorder
Which Type of Anxiety is Causing the Problem?
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