PTSD: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

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What is post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)?

Post traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is a mental health condition that develops after a person has experienced a traumatic or frightening event. While most people feel afraid during and after a traumatic experience, those who have PTSD continue to feel fear long after the event is over and they are no longer in danger.

It’s important to remember that not everyone who experiences PTSD has been in danger. Some people develop symptoms of PTSD after the sudden death of a loved one, or other unexpected trauma.

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Mimi Winsberg, MD

Chief Medical Officer
Stanford-trained Psychiatrist with 25 years of practice

The signs & symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder.

Symptoms of PTSD can begin anywhere from three months to years after the traumatic experience. Symptoms can include flashbacks, bad dreams, avoidance of places or things that remind them of the traumatic event, being easily startled or “on edge,” difficulty sleeping, feelings of guilt or blame, and mood changes.

The symptoms of PTSD are broken out into four categories:

Re-experiencing symptoms include:

  • Frightening or scary thoughts
  • Nightmares or bad dreams
  • Flashbacks of the trauma, including physical symptoms such as sweating and racing heart

Avoidance symptoms include:

  • Avoiding thoughts and feelings related to the trauma
  • Avoiding places, things, or events that are reminders of the traumatic experience

Arousal and reactivity symptoms include:

  • Feeling tense or “on edge”
  • Being easily startled
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Having outbursts of anger

Cognition and mood symptoms include:

  • Loss of interest in activities that once brought enjoyment
  • Feelings of blame or guilt surrounding the event
  • Difficulty remembering important features of the event
  • Negative thoughts about oneself or the world

The course of the illness varies, with some people recovering in six months, while others developing chronic, lifelong symptoms.

PTSD is a common and treatable condition, don’t wait to get the care you need.

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better within 12 weeks
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How we treat post traumatic stress disorder.

Once a diagnosis has been established, post traumatic stress disorder is generally treated with therapy, medication, or both. Talk with your provider about the best treatment option for you.

Medication

Antidepressants are shown to be effective in treating the symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder. At Brightside, we use your data and research to find the right medication for you.

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Therapy

We use evidence-based approaches to therapy such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) that are proven to be the most effective in treating post traumatic stress disorder.

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Self-Care

A comprehensive approach to care leads to better outcomes. By practicing daily healthy habits and self-care, you can reduce your symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder.

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Commonly prescribed medications.

At Brightside we prescribe over 30 different antidepressant medications. We’ll work with you to find the right medication for your individual needs and symptoms.

Affordable plans to help you feel better.

Starting as low as
$45 / for your first month.


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Whether you choose medication, therapy, or both, our memberships include expert online care designed to help you feel better, faster.

  • Comprehensive video evaluation
  • Personalized treatment plan
  • Unlimited messaging
  • Unlimited video follow-ups with your provider
  • 4 video sessions with your therapist each month
  • Free medication delivery
  • Interactive Therapy lessons
  • Regular progress tracking

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Getting started is simple.

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Step 1

Fill out a quick questionnaire.

Start by answering a clinically-proven set of questions, which will help us understand your symptoms and recommend a treatment plan with Medication, Therapy, or both.

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Step 2

Meet your provider & start treatment.

Within 48 hours, you’ll have a video consultation where you can share how you’re feeling and decide on next steps together. If prescribed, your medication will be delivered to your door monthly.

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Step 3

Make progress and feel better.

Unlimited messaging, video sessions, and regular check-ins help you stay in touch with your provider so they can monitor your symptoms and adjust until treatment is right for you.

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You’re in good hands. Our licensed providers are experts in treating post traumatic stress disorder.

  • Always see an expert psychiatric provider
  • All therapists hold a master’s degree or higher
  • Licensed in your state and background comprehensively checked
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Laura Purdy, MD

Psychiatrist
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Michael Chen, MD

Psychiatrist
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Frederica Boso, LMHC

Licensed mental health counselor

Life-changing results from real members.

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Melissa K.

“A literal life saver. So convenient, so effective, and more involved/high touch than my former psychiatrist was. I should have done this a year sooner.”

Kayla S.

“Brightside has made such a huge improvement on my quality of life. The ease of access, the convenience of the med delivery, and the intelligent check in scoring system all contribute to a next level quality of care.”

Anonymous

“My provider has answered every question I’ve had, listened to worries and concerns and symptoms, assured me and is truly invested in my quality of care. I’ve gone from moderate-severe depression to mild depression in just 2 months.”

Rachael B

“I am so very grateful to have found Brightside. This is the most hopeful I have felt in maybe two years. Brightside isn't just working for me, it saved me. Brightside really turned may life around.”

Tyler K

“My life is so much better after starting with Brightside. My doctor truly cares about my well being and I’m just so grateful for this.”

Life-changing results from real members.

Melissa K.

“A literal life saver. So convenient, so effective, and more involved/high touch than my former psychiatrist was. I should have done this a year sooner.”

Kayla S.

“Brightside has made such a huge improvement on my quality of life. The ease of access, the convenience of the med delivery, and the intelligent check in scoring system all contribute to a next level quality of care.”

Anonymous

“My provider has answered every question I’ve had, listened to worries and concerns and symptoms, assured me and is truly invested in my quality of care. I’ve gone from moderate-severe depression to mild depression in just 2 months.”

Rachael B

“I am so very grateful to have found Brightside. This is the most hopeful I have felt in maybe two years. Brightside isn't just working for me, it saved me. Brightside really turned may life around.”

Tyler K

“My life is so much better after starting with Brightside. My doctor truly cares about my well being and I’m just so grateful for this.”

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What you need to know.

How is post traumatic stress disorder diagnosed?

To diagnose PTSD, a healthcare provider must do an evaluation of your symptoms. PTSD is diagnosed if someone experiences all of the following symptoms for a minimum of one month:

  • At least one re-experiencing symptom
  • At least one avoidance symptom
  • At least two arousal and reactivity symptoms
  • At least two cognition and mood symptoms

The symptoms must also be severe enough that they interfere with your daily life and are causing significant distress.

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What are the risk factors for post traumatic stress disorder?

It’s important to remember that not everyone who lives through a traumatic event will develop PTSD. However, there are certain risk factors that can make someone more likely to develop the condition.

These risk factors include:

  • Have a history of mental illness and/or substance abuse
  • Getting injured during the event
  • Living through dangerous or traumatic events
  • Watching another person get hurt 
  • Seeing a dead body
  • Childhood trauma
  • Feeling helpless, horrified, or extremely afraid during the event
  • Little to no social support after the traumatic event
  • Extra stress related to job or home loss, death of a loved one, or pain and injury
  • Related Conditions
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When to seek help for post traumatic stress disorder.

It is normal to feel afraid or uneasy following a traumatic event. However, if your symptoms have lasted over a month and are severe enough to interfere with your day-to-day life, you may be suffering from PTSD.

Make an appointment with your healthcare provider to discuss treatment options that may be right for you.

What are the treatment options for post traumatic stress disorder?

From medication to therapy, there are a variety of treatment options to help with the symptoms of PTSD.

Medication
Several types of medications can help with the symptoms of PTSD. These include antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications. Sertraline (Zoloft) and paroxetine (Paxil) are the two selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) medications FDA-approved to treat the symptoms of PTSD. 

You and your healthcare provider can work together to find the right medication for you. Keep in mind that it takes a few weeks to feel the full effects of these medications.

Therapy
Effective therapies for treating PTSD include different types of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), such as exposure therapy and cognitive restructuring. Talk therapy is another effective treatment for people struggling with PTSD.

Exposure Therapy
This type of therapy helps someone control their fear in the face of something they’re afraid of. Exposure therapy gradually increases exposure to the trauma experienced in a safe way by using imagination, writing, or visiting the location of the traumatic event. The therapist can then use these tools to help someone develop coping strategies.

Cognitive Restructuring
Cognitive restructuring helps reframe triggering or bad memories into a more realistic memory. Sometimes, people struggling with PTSD won’t correctly remember what happened during the trauma and may feel guilt or shame about their role in the event. This type of therapy helps to restructure memories in a more neutral, less triggering way.

Talk Therapy
Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, can be another effective treatment for PTSD. Talk therapy for PTSD can either occur one on one or in a group setting, and helps people talk through their symptoms.

Talk therapy can teach helpful ways to react to frightening or triggering events by:

  • Providing education about the effects of trauma
  • Helping identify and deal with feelings of shame, guilt, or blame surrounding the event
  • Using relaxation and anger management techniques
  • Offering tips for healthy sleep, nutrition, and physical activity

Self-Care, Coping, and Support
Many treatment plans for PTSD involve aspects of self-care. This can include:

  • Maintaining a healthy diet
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Exercising on a regular basis
  • Managing stress & practicing mindfulness
  • Engaging in enjoyable/creative activities
  • Taking prescribed medications correctly and discussing any potential side effects with your healthcare providers
  • Watching for early signs that your symptoms may be worsening, and having a plan in place for how to respond if they do
  • Surrounding yourself with positive and supportive influences
  • Talking to trusted family members and friends about how you are feeling
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The Brightside difference.

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Build the skills needed to overcome anxiety and depression with an evidence-based approach to therapy that is proven to work.

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Track your progress at every step, so you and your provider can make informed decisions and adjust your care until it’s right for you.

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