PTSD and Trauma Treatment: The Facts You Need to Know

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a trauma-related mental health condition. It affects 3.5% of US adults. One in 11 people receives a PTSD diagnosis at some point in their lifetime.

PTSD is similar to other trauma disorders like acute stress disorder and adjustment disorder. All of these conditions develop after a traumatic experience, though not everyone who undergoes trauma develops them.

Are you living with trauma symptoms? If so, PTSD treatment may be able to help. Keep reading this guide to learn more about trauma disorders like PTSD and the treatment program options available.

Trauma Disorders: Explained

Trauma disorders fall under the Trauma and Stress-Related Disorders category in the DSM-5. The DSM-5 is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. It is the tool professionals use to diagnose mental health conditions.

Symptoms of trauma disorders depend on the exact diagnosis. The following conditions fall under the Trauma and Stress-Related Disorders category:

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Reactive attachment disorder (RAD)
  • Disinhibited social engagement disorder (DSED)
  • Acute stress disorder (ASD)
  • Adjustment disorder

Professionals diagnose RAD in children. This disorder features an inability to bond with caretakers or parents and difficulty regulating emotions. RAD often happens due to early childhood neglect or abuse.

DSED is also a diagnosis for children. It refers to children who wander away from their parents or caregivers. These children may also be overly-familiar with strangers, which can present a significant risk.

People with ASD showcase similar symptoms to people with PTSD (more on these next). Symptoms initiate directly after experiencing trauma and last for at least three days. If symptoms last for longer than a month, that’s PTSD.

Adjustment disorder is a condition that can happen after experiencing a stressful life event. It may feature severe stress and depressive-like symptoms. The person’s reaction may be disproportional to the situation.

What Is PTSD?

PTSD is a mental health condition that features re-occurring symptoms relating to a traumatic event. There are two components required for a PTSD diagnosis.

First, the person must have experienced trauma. Trauma is any event involving actual or threatened death, serious injury, or sexual violence.

It is not only a trauma if these things happen to you. You may also develop PTSD if you watch these things happen to someone else. In rare cases, hearing about trauma or watching traumatic events on TV can lead to PTSD.

The second component of a PTSD diagnosis is that the person exhibits the symptoms of PTSD.

Signs and Symptoms of PTSD

You must experience at least one symptom from each of the following four categories to receive a PTSD diagnosis:

  1. Re-experiencing the trauma via flashbacks, nightmares, or intrusive memories
  2. Avoiding reminders of the trauma, including memories and thoughts of the event
  3. Cognitive and emotional symptoms such as depression, anxiety, guilt, shame, or memory loss
  4. Arousal and reactivity symptoms which may include hypervigilance, tension, irritability, and insomnia

These symptoms must begin after the traumatic event. If you already had symptoms of PTSD before the traumatic event, they must get worse following the trauma.

Symptoms of cPTSD

Complex PTSD (cPTSD) is a similar condition. It arises from more long-term traumas instead of acute traumatic experiences. For example, someone who experiences abuse, human trafficking, or war may develop cPTSD.

These individuals also experience additional symptoms. They may include trouble regulating emotions, dissociation, depressive-like symptoms, and social isolation.

What Causes PTSD?

Not everyone who experiences an acute or chronic trauma develops PTSD. In fact, only about one in three people who experience a traumatic event develop this condition. Multiple factors can increase someone’s risk for PTSD.

For example, genes may play a role. Studies have found that people with relatives who have mental health issues can increase their risk for PTSD.

Having a pre-existing mental health condition yourself can also increase your risk of developing PTSD. Not receiving support after a traumatic event can also make someone more likely to develop this condition.

PTSD Treatment Options

There is no cure for PTSD. But treatment can help people experience fewer symptoms or eliminate symptoms altogether. Treatment can even work if significant time has passed since the traumatic experience.

Below, we explain some of the top options for treating PTSD and trauma.


Doctors often prescribe antidepressant medications to help people with PTSD. These include SSRIs and SNRIs.

The four most common brand-name medications prescribed for this condition are Zoloft, Paxil, Prozac, and Effexor. These drugs are highly effective for treating trauma and the symptoms of PTSD.

Inpatient and Outpatient Treatment Programs

You can get trauma therapy in an inpatient or outpatient setting. Inpatient or residential treatment programs are often a great place to start. You live at the facility where you receive care, allowing for a more immersive experience.

Outpatient programs are ideal for people who have been discharged from inpatient programs. These programs may also be the first choice for people who need more flexibility to attend school, go to work, or care for their kids.

In residential programs, you live at the rehab center where you receive care. You split your time between getting therapy and other treatments that help with PTSD symptoms.

Outpatient programs allow you to live at home. You commute to the treatment facility for therapy and other treatments. These programs can help people transition back to normal life after a stay at a residential facility.

Treatment for Co-Occurring Addictions and Disorders

The National Center for PTSD estimates that around 80% of people diagnosed with PTSD have additional mental health conditions. One of the most common ones is substance use disorder (SUD).

If you have a concurrent SUD, you may require detox. Inpatient rehab facilities offer medically-assisted detox programs to help you get through withdrawal symptoms safely and more comfortably.

Treatment centers like CWC Recovery offer therapy for people with dual PTSD diagnoses. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) can help treat both PTSD and SUDs.

Searching for Trauma Treatment in Florida?

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition. It features re-occuring thoughts or memories of a traumatic event. PTSD often co-occurs with other mental health issues, including addiction.

Do you need PTSD treatment in South Florida? CWC Recovery offers programs for PTSD, substance use disorders, and more. Learn more about our trauma treatment programs, and contact us today to get the help you deserve.

Get Help Today

    Looking for Help?

    We're ready to help you begin a new life