When healthy adults are exposed to a single traumatic event, they may experience emotional numbing, a feeling of unreality, distress, and intense bad memories. Usually, recovery is achieved within a few weeks. Recovery can be aided by therapeutic guidance in processing the memories and responses, and identifying positive ways of coping.
When an individual experiences devastating loss, such as the destruction of a home or community in a natural disaster or the witnessing of widespread death, that individual may respond with mental confusion, panic, and emotional paralysis that makes it impossible to carry out normal activities. Treatment for acute stress disorder includes therapeutic support and the use of medication to relieve anxiety, insomnia, and grief. Counseling in the form of crisis intervention can help the individual process the loss.
This involves constantly re-experiencing a traumatic event along with emotional numbness, avoidance of related stimuli, and anxiety. It usually responds to a combination of psychotherapy and medication.
This occurs in people who have experienced prolonged trauma, especially childhood sexual abuse. Many of these people are diagnosed with borderline, antisocial, or dissociative personality disorders. They may exhibit behavioral disorders, such as sexual acting out, substance abuse, eating disorders, and self-harm. The treatment of these individuals usually requires a specialized trauma team.
Comorbid PTSD is the existence of PTSD with concurrent psychiatric disorders, such as depression, anxiety, or substance abuse. It is much more common than uncomplicated PTSD. It requires the treatment of both disorders simultaneously. Usually, the same treatments used for uncomplicated PTSD are combined with treatment specifically targeting the comorbid disorder(s).