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Co-Occurring Disorders with PTSD

Many people may think they have anxiety because they suffer from social anxiety, or they have difficulty making quick decisions or any decision at all. Or some may feel as though they seem to be functioning in “survival mode” in order to just get through the day. While it may be determined that they do have anxiety, in some instances, they may actually be suffering from PTSD, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as well as one or more co-occurring disorders.

PTSD Statistics

It has been estimated that almost 8% of Americans will suffer from PTSD symptoms at some point during their life. Women are twice as likely as men to develop PTSD, with the numbers 10.4% and 5% respectively. Approximately 3.6%, or 5.2 million adults in the U.S. have PTSD during the course of a given year.

PTSD Symptoms

Three different kinds of symptoms are experienced with PTSD:

  • First set of symptoms involve reliving the trauma in some way
  • Second set of symptoms occur when you purposefully stay away from places or people that remind you of the trauma; you become isolated from other people or feel numb
  • The third set of symptoms include feeling irritable, startling easily, or feeling on guard

Examples of PTSD Symptoms

While there are numerous symptoms reported with PTSD, following are some of the more commonly reported issues:

  • Loss of confidence in trusting your own instincts
  • Social anxiety
  • Difficulty at times separating reality from imagination
  • Waking up frequently at night; having a “fitful” sleep
  • Finding yourself flip-flopping on making a decision
  • Difficulty with short term memory retention
  • Finding it difficult to focus on a task, conversation, idea; difficulty with following through to the end of a thought process
  • Physical or mental lethargy
  • Feeling hopelessness, despair, or depression
  • Becoming exhausted after even small tasks; simple things become “just too hard to do”
  • Making poor life choices where you feel shame instead of making choices to change the situation to the positive
  • Confusion as to why you feel in a “fog” or feel “shell-shocked” by life in general
  • Exhibiting addictive behaviors as a means of escape

Co-Occurring Conditions with PTSD

Those that suffer from PTSD are also commonly diagnosed with other disorders such as depression, substance abuse, anxiety, difficulties with memory or cognition, as well as other problems with mental health or physiological changes.  The disorder itself is associated with impairment of the ability to function in social or family life – it is common to see problems with relationships, family discord, difficulties in parenting, and job instability.

For men, more than half with PTSD also have problems with alcohol; the most common co-occurring issues for men in order are depression, conduct disorder, and substance abuse.

For women, just under half of those with PTSD experience depression; the next most common co-occurring mental health issues are specific fears, anxiety, problems related to alcohol.

PTSD Psychiatric Care

PTSD is not just a “veteran’s ailment.” PTSD can occur across every socio-economic status and life stage. Call Dr. Hege for a confidential appointment at one of his convenient weekend and weeknight office hours for a comprehensive evaluation that addresses your primary and co-occurring issues.

Mental Health: Do You Have a Common Disorder?

There are many different mental health disorders and conditions that can be diagnosed and successfully treated by qualified mental health professionals. It may be found during a comprehensive evaluation that a person may have a primary disorder or illness with other psychiatric disorders present that require treatment as well.

Qualified Mental Health Evaluation Critical

Diagnosis of multiple mental illness in a person is not uncommon. In addition some mental illness disorders have components of others in them. Some examples: someone with PTSD who also presents with a depression component or a person who may be diagnosed with depression but who also has suicidal tendencies. Working with an experienced psychiatrist provides you with the skills needed to determine your individual issues and needs.

Common Mental Illness Diagnoses

The more common types of mental illness or mental disorders follow.

  • Anxiety Disorders: An anxiety disorder is typically diagnosed when a person’s response is not appropriate to the event or situation — if a person cannot control the response, or if the anxiety is interfering with normal daily life. Anxiety disorders usually come with feelings of fear and dread, physical signs of panic such as sweating and rapid heartbeat. Anxiety disorders do include panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, social anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder and other specific phobias.
  • Mood Disorders: These disorders involve chronic long lasting feelings of sadness, periods of feeling overly happy, or feelings that fluctuate from extreme happiness to extreme sadness. This category includes the most common mood disorders of bipolar disorder, depression and cyclothymic disorder (low and high mood swings not as severe as those seen in bipolar disorder). 
  • Impulse Control and Addiction Disorders: With a diagnosis or diagnoses of this type of mental illness comes the inability to resist urges or impulses as well as performing acts that may to harmful to themselves or others. Some examples of impulse control and addiction disorders are compulsive gambling, alcohol and drug addiction, pyromania or kleptomania. It is not uncommon for the person to become so involved with their addiction that they start to ignore their work, home and social responsibilities and relationships.
  • Personality Disorders: Those people with personality disorders generally have extreme and inflexible personality traits that cause distress and problems not only to the person with this mental health illness, but also cause disruption at work, school or in social relationships. With personality disorders the pattern of thinking and behavior are often so rigid that they interfere with normal daily living skills. Some examples of this disorder are antisocial personality disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, and paranoid personality disorder.
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): This mental illness usually develops after a traumatic or terrifying event. People who are diagnosed with PTSD typically have lasting and frightening thoughts and memories of the event and often find themselves emotionally numb.

Expert Mental Illness Help Available

If you see yourself in one or more of the multiple descriptions above and are having difficulty with daily life functioning it may be time to take a proactive step; call for an appointment with a qualified mental health psychiatrist for evaluation.

Do I Have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

In today’s stressful and high anxiety environment it is not uncommon for many people to suffer from panic attacks, emotional distress, or develop feelings of fear or helplessness after a traumatic event. How can you know if you are suffering from PTSD or some other mental health issue? Below we mention some of the most common signs and symptoms of PTSD; however, it takes a qualified professional to make an accurate diagnosis and develop a treatment plan to meet your individual needs.

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Myths Surrounding PTSD Leave Stigma

There are numerous myths that surround PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – myths that bring increased turmoil to the lives of those diagnosed with PTSD through misunderstanding, prejudice, maltreatment and negative attitudes presented by society as a whole. Those diagnosed with PTSD often feel they are “marked with a stigma” often based in myths.

How common is PTSD?

In the U.S. there are approximately 5.2 million adults who develop PTSD during the course of any given year.  Women are twice as likely to develop PTSD as men, yet over 60% of men compared to 51% of women report experiencing one traumatic event – living through a traumatic event does not automatically facilitate the development of PTSD.

Traumatic Events Associated with PTSD

For men, the traumatic events most often associated with PTSD are rape, combat exposure, childhood neglect and/or physical abuse. For women, the events that may lead to PTSD, are rape, sexual molestation, physical attack, being threatened with a weapon, or memories of childhood physical abuse.

Common Myths about PTSD 

Finding or seeking treatment for the mental health diagnosis of PTSD is a big step that can lead to a fuller life. An experienced and qualified therapist can help you dispel the myths from your mind and develop a successful treatment plan designed around your special needs and lifestyle.

Common myths include:

  • Myth: PTSD is a sign of mental weakness, and only people who are weak get PTSD. It is not weakness but rather a human response to uncommon experiences. The trauma experienced may be in the form of a personal trauma, a natural disaster, multiple traumatic events, or trauma that continues over a long term period. Usually those with PTSD have a poor interpersonal support system in place.
  • Myth: Anything can be traumatic. While almost any situation or event could be deemed traumatic in some way, there is criteria in place that needs to be met in order to be classified as “traumatic” which includes a) exposure to actual or threatened death, serious injury or sexual violence, b) directly experiencing the event, witnessing it in person, or being indirectly exposed to the event such as repeatedly hearing and/or seeing the details of a traumatic event.
  • Myth: You can get PTSD immediately after experiencing a traumatic event. Initial emotional reactions are expected; however, stress reactions need to last at least a month for a diagnosis of PTSD to be considered. Acute Stress, while similar to PTSD, may be diagnosed within the first month of the trauma.
  • Myth: People with PTSD are crazy and/or dangerous. PTSD is not demonstrated with psychosis or violence. “Crazy” is not a diagnosis but is a stigmatizing label.
  • Myth: Those with PTSD should “just get over it.” While PTSD can be successfully treated, the symptoms do not just “go away” even with time, and these bothersome symptoms may require continued professional treatment and guidance to cope and adapt.

Treatment for PTSD

Whether you have experienced a trauma recently or decades ago, there is treatment for PTSD. Seeking out help does not mean you failed in coping with your emotions. Getting treatment is a sign of strength and desire to live life to the fullest. Call the office today for a confidential psychiatric evaluation and begin the healing process.

PTSD and Heart Disease in Women

CNN recently reported on the results of a 20 year study that show women with post-traumatic stress face a 60% higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease. In addition, the study discovered that women who experienced a trauma without reporting any PTSD symptoms still faced a 45% higher risk of heart attack and stroke than women who did not report any trauma in their lives.

PTSD Occurrence

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is twice as common in women as in men occurring in some people following a traumatic event in their lives. Those with PTSD may experience flashbacks of the traumatic event, insomnia, fatigue, trouble with memory or focus and a feeling of emotional numbness. Other symptoms of PTSD include nightmares, irritability, or of being easily startled or upset. A knowledgeable psychiatrist will be able to successfully direct the treatment plan to manage both mental health and physical health concerns.

Cardiovascular Disease vs PTSD Symptoms

Data from the 20 year study indicated that almost half of the association between elevated PTSD symptoms and cardiovascular disease was accounted for by unhealthy behaviors like smoking, obesity, lack of exercise and medical factors such as high blood pressure. While PTSD is typically looked at as a psychological disorder, findings from the study point to the profound impact PTSD has on physical health, specifically cardiovascular risk, making PTSD a potentially serious health impacting mental health disorder.

PTSD Symptoms

PTSD symptoms are generally grouped into one of four types: 1) intrusive memories, 2) avoidance, 3) negative changes in thinking and mood, or 4) changes in emotional reactions. The symptoms most commonly seen in each type follow:

Intrusive Memories – symptoms may include:

  • Reliving the traumatic event over and over again
  • Unwanted distressing memories recur frequently
  • Upsetting dreams related to the traumatic event
  • Severe emotional distress
  • Emotional or physical reactions to reminders of event

Avoidance – symptoms seen include:

  • Avoiding places, people or activities that reminds one of the traumatic event
  • Making an effort to avoid thinking or talking about the traumatic event

Negative Changes in Thinking and Mood – symptoms include:

  • Having negative feelings about oneself or others
  • Being unable to experience positive feelings or emotions
  • Feeling emotionally numb
  • Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed
  • Feelings of hopelessness or impending doom
  • Memory loss related to important details about traumatic event
  • Trouble maintaining close relationships

Changes in Emotional Reactions – symptoms for this include:

  • Self-destructive behaviors
  • Overwhelming guilt or shame
  • Feeling constantly on guard for danger
  • Expressions of irritability, aggressive behavior, outbursts of anger
  • Difficulty concentrating or focusing
  • Experiencing sleep disturbances
  • Finding yourself easily startled or frightened

Treatment for Women with PTSD

There has been great success in treating PTSD with a combination of medication and cognitive behavioral therapy. An experienced psychiatrist understands the connection between PTSD and increased risk of cardiovascular disease; both the mental and physical aspects of PTSD will be covered in a treatment plan geared to individual needs.

Call the office to set up an initial visit at a time convenient to your schedule.

PTSD: Gender Differences

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder brought on by a traumatic event and which continues with symptoms of re-experiencing the trauma, avoidance, numbing of the senses and hyper arousal. While most may readily associate PTSD with war veterans, the disorder can affect anyone with research studies showing that women are twice as likely as men to develop PTSD.

Research Results on PTSD

The American Psychological Association reported on a review of 25 years worth of PTSD research in their Psychological Bulletin.  Results of the research showed that while men had a higher risk for being involved in a traumatic event, the numbers of those diagnosed with PTSD were significantly higher for women. PTSD may be diagnosed in women more often than men due to the differences between the sexes in their cognitive and emotional responses to a traumatic event – these differences in emotional responses are part of the diagnostic criteria for PTSD.

PTSD Presents Differently Between Sexes

Those men and women diagnosed with PTSD do not only show a difference in emotional responses; they also display a difference in the symptoms they report. A qualified mental health professional needs to be well informed and practiced with PTSD sufferers of both sexes for a proper and correct diagnosis. The National Center for PTSD reports some of these differences between the sexes are noted as:

  • Women are more likely to have symptoms of numbing and avoidance
  • Men more likely to have co-morbid substance abuse disorders
  • Women are more likely to have co-morbid mood and anxiety disorders
  • Men more likely to feel angry and have trouble controlling their anger
  • Women more likely to feel depressed and anxious
  • Men more commonly have problems with alcohol or drugs
  • Women have more trouble feeling emotions and they tend to avoid anything that reminds them of the trauma
  • Women with PTSD have less memory loss and a lesser degree of cognitive function than men
  • Both men and women may develop problems with their physical health

PTSD Risk Factors for Women

One in ten women may develop PTSD after a traumatic event. Women are at a higher risk for being diagnosed with the disorder if they:

  • Have a past mental health problem such as depression or anxiety
  • Experienced a very severe or life-threatening traumatic event
  • Were physically injured during the traumatic event
  • They were sexually assaulted
  • Experienced other stressful situations after the traumatic event
  • Has limited to poor social support

Atlanta PTSD Support

Finding the correct treatment for PTSD begins with the correct diagnosis. Call the office of Dr. Hege for a confidential appointment.

PTSD: Women 2X the Rate of Men

While most people associate the term PTSD more closely with those seeing military action, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder has affected over 30 million adults in the U.S. who have not experienced military service. Both men and women develop PTSD; however, women are twice as likely as men to be diagnosed with PTSD. Approximately 1 out of every 10 adult women will face PTSD.

What’s Normal and what’s PTSD

After living through a traumatic event, it is normal to display some of the symptoms of PTSD. It is not uncommon to feel numb, crazy, disconnected, fearful and distrustful. Bad dreams and inability to stop dwelling on the event is also normal. Depending on the impact of the traumatic situation, “PTSD symptoms” may last for a few days, weeks or even months however they slowly decrease over time – with PTSD you do not start to feel better – you start to feel worse.

PTSD Symptoms

PTSD can affect the victim, police officers, emergency medical personnel, neighbors, or family and friends of the victim. PTSD is experienced differently by everyone, however there are three main types of symptoms that are reported for PTSD:

Re-experiencing the traumatic event over and over in your mind

  1. Flashbacks about event
  2. Nightmares
  3. Upsetting memories that impact your function and relationships
  4. Intense distress or fear
  5. Physical reactions such as pounding heart, sweating, nausea, shortness of breath

Avoiding reminders of the event and feeling numb

  1. Loss of interest in normal routine, activities and life
  2. Avoiding thoughts, feelings and places that remind you of the traumatic event
  3. Poor to no ability to remember details of the situation
  4. Feeling numb and detached from the world around you
  5. Sense of impending doom or that something bad will happen

Increased anxiety and emotional turmoil

  1. Sleep problems
  2. Feeling irritable or having outbursts of anger
  3. Problems concentrating or focusing
  4. Feeling on edge, jumpy, and tense
  5. Feeling like you are constantly on “red alert” for doom and gloom

PTSD Psychiatric Treatment

Other common PTSD symptoms may also include depression, guilt, feeling all alone in the world, having physical aches and pains, having suicidal thoughts, developing a substance abuse habit, or feeling betrayed. PTSD may have common symptoms but each case is unique, requiring an experienced psychiatrist to develop a treatment plan for your own individual experiences and symptoms.

Atlanta PTSD Help

If you think you have PTSD seek help as soon as you can. There is help for overcoming PTSD and getting your life back to normal. Call the office for an appointment today.

 

PTSD: Atlanta Neighborhoods in Crisis

In a study where PSTD screening was given to trauma level patients, over 40% exhibited signs of PTSD. While 8% of Georgians suffer from PTSD at some point in their lives, the rate of PTSD is significantly higher in communities and neighborhoods around Atlanta where several thousand report seeing or being a victim of a violent crime. Georgia has 152 acute care hospitals, with only 15 of those designated as trauma centers. Only 5 of those 15 trauma centers are found in Atlanta. Grady Memorial in Atlanta is the largest hospital in Georgia, 5th largest in the U.S. and the busiest Level 1 trauma center in the U.S.

PTSD Rates at Home Rival PTSD Rates of War Veterans

Atlanta, along with Detroit, Chicago and Philadelphia who all have high rates of violent crime also show higher levels of PTSD. Recent research studies found that in the U.S. those with traumatic injuries develop PTSD at rates comparable to war veterans. In fact, in Atlanta, the rates of PTSD in the general population are as high as or higher than PTSD seen in veterans returning from the Iraq, Afghanistan, and Vietnam wars. Life in major cities has become so stressful that the populace is more likely to suffer flashbacks, nightmares, paranoia, anxiety, fear and social withdrawal.

Untreated PTSD Impacts Life Skills

PTSD symptoms progress disrupting the ability to function effectively at home, with friends and at work. Pro Publica online reports that while an Atlanta trauma center may be able to save a life and send them back out into the community, the occurrence of PTSD following the trauma results in the patient not having all of their needs met. With better awareness of the increase of PTSD, more patients will hopefully be referred for mental health evaluation and treatment. If you or a loved one is experiencing any signs or symptoms of PTSD, working with a mental health professional experienced in community acquired PTSD is the right path in regaining control of your life.

Variety of Triggers for PTSD

PTSD can develop from a wide variety of triggers. While the disorder is often associated with being a victim of a violent crime, severe injury, exposure to war or natural disasters, PTSD can also be brought on by events that may not qualify as traumatic such as unemployment, divorce, or major life changes.

PTSD Symptoms

While receiving a proper diagnosis of PTSD is necessary for proper treatment, symptoms can include phobia, avoidance, recurring nightmares, flashbacks, having a negative emotional state, feeling detached from others, sleeplessness, irritability, anger, numbing of emotions, hyper-vigilance, and self-destructive behavior.

Call Dr. Hege a highly regarded PTSD psychiatrist in Atlanta. Get the help you need now.

Risk of Psychiatric Disorder after TBI

Psychiatric News reported on studies that shows after a traumatic brain injury, TBI, there is an increased risk of developing a psychiatric disorder. The most common disorders found after a TBI are PTSD, panic or anxiety disorder, depression and social phobias. In addition, significant complaints that impact daily life include problems with memory, sleep, concentration and focus. In the U.S., with some 2 million sustaining a TBI every year, it is important to increase awareness to psychological, emotional and physiological problems that can occur after TBI.

TBI Increases Risk of Psychiatric Disorder to Over 400%

A 30+ year study the American Journal of Psychiatry just published in April 2014 shows dramatic increases of the development of a major psychiatric disorder after a TBI, while pre-existing mental illness can increase the severity of the symptoms. Developing bipolar disorder risk increased by 28%, depression increased by 59%, a diagnosis of schizophrenia increased by 65%, and the development of organic mental disorders increased by 439%. Research data presented illustrates that the additional risk was not credited to any family history of psychiatric illness, nor was the risk of a TBI shown to happen more to someone who was accident prone.

Mental Health Illness after TBI Needs Psychiatric Evaluation

With increasing awareness of the all-encompassing impact a TBI can have on the emotional, psychological health and well-being of a person, earlier diagnosis and proper treatment can begin for any developing psychiatric disorders. Finding a qualified psychiatrist experienced in frequent initial medication adjustments and modification following a diagnosis of psychiatric disorder after a TBI is critical.  Mental health illness responds to pharmacological treatment no matter if the disorder developed from a TBI or not.

Atlanta TBI Psychiatric Disorder Specialist

If mental health concerns begin to interfere with your life after a concussion, closed head injury, or TBI, it is time for a comprehensive psychiatric evaluation to determine if a psychiatric treatment plan is in order. Contact us for help.

Psychiatric Medication Side Effects Respond to Management Strategies

With the world’s seemingly unending stressful events, such as money issues, family problems, random violence in the news, many people can develop a mental health issue. Whether or not the problem is short-lived or becomes chronic, both respond to psychiatric medications that when properly managed lead to the successful treatment of life-disrupting mental illness.

Psychiatric Medications Critical Part of Treatment Plan

Psychiatric medications are often a critical element in the development of a successful mental health treatment plan. The National Institute of Mental Health separates psychiatric medications into six main groups which include medications used to treat ADHD, anxiety disorders, clinical depression, bi-polar disorder, mood disorders, or medications used as a sedative. A qualified psychiatrist carefully diagnoses and prescribes after a thorough evaluation and history taking.

Top Five Psychiatric Medications Prescribed

Psych Central reports that the top ranking medication from 2005 forward to today is Xanax / alprazolam used for anxiety, with almost 48 million U.S. prescriptions written on an annual basis. The other four psychiatric medications range from almost 24 million U.S. prescriptions a year to well over 37 million.

The 2nd ranked medication includes Zoloft/sertraline for anxiety, PTSD, OCD, and depression; 3rd, the drug Ativan for panic disorder and anxiety; 4th, Prozac/fluoxetine for anxiety and depression; and 5th, Celexa/citalopram for anxiety and depression. The variety of psychiatric medications used for ADHD rank all the way from 15th to 25th with yearly U.S. prescriptions totaling up to more than 35 million a year.

Common Psychiatric Medication Side-Effects

Psychiatric medication side effects vary from one person to the next. There are numerous factors that change how your body will react to any one or a combination of medications. The four main psychiatric medication side effects are:

  • Weight gain
  • Sexual issues or dysfunction
  • Restlessness, hyperactivity, irritability or agitation
  • Tiredness, drowsiness, memory deficits or clouded thinking

Other significant side effects which may require more immediate psychiatrist medication adjustment and management include:

  • Diarrhea or GI upset such as nausea and vomiting
  • Impaired coordination and control of body’s extremities
  • Insomnia
  • Blurred vision
  • Cardio-pulmonary issues
  • Drop in blood pressure with feelings of dizziness or syncope
  • Black outs or feeling like you are in a trance or stupor
  • Becoming despondent or having feelings of great sadness and despair
  • Any change in your emotional or physical state that may be due to psychiatric medication side effect which is causing you emotional stress.

Atlanta Psychiatrist, Expert in Managing Medication Side Effects

If you are currently taking psychiatric medications and are experiencing side effects that have negatively impacted family, social relationships or work related interactions, it is time for a change – call Atlanta’s expert in managing and adjusting psychiatric medications.

Dr. Darvin Hege, M.D. Atlanta’s psychiatric medication side-effects doctor is ready to help you make the change for the better – call to set up an appointment today.