Neuropsychological testing for PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that is initiated by a terrifying or life-threatening event. Symptoms may include severe anxiety, nightmares, flashbacks, and as well as repetitive uncontrolled thoughts about the event.

After going through a traumatic event, many have difficulty adjusting and coping for a brief period of time. Generally, with some time and distance from the event, traumatic

re-experiences usually diminish. However, when the trauma is particularly severe, sometimes the symptoms actually get worse or last for a long time after the original event. When the symptoms of anxiety, jumpiness or re-living of the original experience persist and interfere with daily functioning, you may have post-traumatic stress disorder.

Symptoms of PTSD are divided into three subtypes: intrusive memories, avoidance and numbing, and increased anxiety or emotional arousal (technically called hyperarousal).

Symptoms of intrusive memories may include:
  • Re-living the traumatic event again (i.e., having flashbacks)
  • Having disturbing dreams about your traumatic event
Symptoms of avoidance may include:
  • Avoiding thinking or talking about the original event
  • Emotional numbness
  • Avoiding activities that remind you of the original event
  • Hopelessness about the future
  • Trouble focusing
  • Difficulty maintaining friendships/avoiding family
Symptoms of anxiety and increased emotional arousal may include:
  • Irritability and anger
  • Self-destructive behavior, such as drinking too much
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Overwhelming guilt or shame
  • Being easily startled
  • Hearing or seeing things that aren’t really there

Post-traumatic stress disorder has also been associated with memory difficulties because of the chemical and structural changes that happen in the brain of a person with PTSD. Because of the way that PTSD can take over an individual’s life, those with PTSD are at much greater risk for depression and possible suicide. Symptoms of PTSD can vary over time and often worsen after, for example, seeing a disturbing news story about a trauma similar to your own. For other people, smells can trigger intrusive thoughts. Finally, the classic trigger for individuals involved in combat is a car backfiring. This loud noise is reminiscent of gunfire, and it triggers the person’s startle response along with tremendous anxiety.

If you suspect that you or a loved one suffers from PTSD, please contact us to get more information or arrange for an evaluation. Depending on the findings of the evaluation, a treatment plan can be developed that is optimized for your particular symptoms.

If you are currently wishing that you were no longer here or are having thoughts about killing yourself, please call the good people at the National Suicide Prevention Helpline. Their number is 1-800-273-8255. They are warm, nonjudgmental people who are ready and willing to listen to the pain you are feeling.