The Most Brutal Truth about PTSD, Described by Victor Camille Lebouthillier

Vic LeBouthillier, Clinical Director of Alive Treatment Centre for PTSD, says that we have not served those who have contacted PTSD well – we have not understood how to diagnose and treat the illness.

 

Experiencing some devastating event is bad enough. For some, the event isn’t relegated to the past, but, instead, triggers a psycho-emotional anxiety disorder called PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder).

According to mental health experts, PTSD is a mental health condition that results in a series of emotional and physical reactions in individuals who have either experienced or witnessed a traumatic event.

If that weren’t enough, individuals with PTSD typically have feelings of being alone, misunderstood, and being looked down upon as someone who’s weak and can’t get their act together. Complicating things further can be a sense that the treatment that they are receiving isn’t appropriate or is ineffective.

Events that cause the individual to fear for their life and well-being, e.g. a car collision or other accident, a physical or sexual assault, long-term abuse, torture, natural disasters, living in a war zone, or life-altering experiences like the death of a loved one—can all result in a person experiencing the following PTSD symptoms:

Avoidance

Avoidance of any physical or mental stimuli that reminds the individual of the past traumatic event. This is a typical PTSD symptom. For example, those involved in tragic car collisions may avoid driving and commuting in a car whatsoever. Also common is avoidance of particular places, or people.

Physical Pain:

PTSD can be expressed physically, e.g. headaches or migraines, dizziness, fatigue, chest pain, breathing difficulties, and stomach or other digestive issues.

Flashbacks & Nightmares

It’s very common for those with PTSD to suffer flashbacks or nightmares. This is a symptom known as re-experiencing, in which the patient suddenly and vividly relives the traumatic event. It’s typical for the individual to suffer these flashbacks regularly.

Anxiety or Depression

Mental phobias, which professionals deem as irrational and persistent fears and the avoidance of certain objects or situations, can cause extreme anxiety in PTSD sufferers. This can eventually lead to paranoia and depression.

Withdrawal

Both adult and child PTSD patients can suddenly lose interest in their social lives and interests, foregoing their favorite hobbies, activities, and friends that they once were very passionate about. On the other hand, the sufferer engaging in risky behavior, e.g. thrill-seeking activities or drug and alcohol abuse, can also be seen as a form of escapism.

Repression

Repression, or the purposeful blockage of memories associated with a negative past events or experiences, is also a symptom of PTSD. Aside from the unconscious suppression of horrible memories, the patient may destroy pictures or memorabilia from that the time surrounding the event or they may attempt to distract themselves by throwing themselves into work.

Emotional Numbing

It’s very common for those with PTSD to try to numb their feelings. After all, it’s hard to suffer pain when you don’t feel any emotion at all. Emotional numbing often leads to the gradual withdrawal from social circles. In time, the individual may find themselves socially isolated.

Guilt and Shame

Those PTSD patients who can’t get past their negative experience may find it difficult to move forward and maintain a healthy life. They may blame themselves and constantly relive the event, wondering how they could have prevented it. Often immense shame and guilt will set in if they blame themselves. This is often seen in victims of abuse.

Hyper-arousal

It’s common for those with PTSD to suffer jitters so severe that it becomes impossible to relax due to the fear of threats. These individuals can be characterized as “on edge” and “jumpy” or easily frightened.

Irritability

The constant fear and paranoia associated with PTSD can lead to extreme irritability, indecisiveness, a total lack of concentration, sleeplessness, and difficulty maintaining personal relationships.

In the last decade, the field of behavioral health has been advancing exponentially. Our ability to diagnose and treat people with PTSD has increased significantly. But, much like people in developing countries not having access to vaccines that can help them to avoid curable diseases, there are many people, who live year after year suffering from PTSD without knowing that effective treatment is available or having access to it.

Over the past five years, the staff at the Alive Centre for Wellness and Vic LeBouthillier have focused on PTSD and how to provide accessible treatment to those who need it. This focus has led them to develop a PTSD treatment program that integrates these ten modalities:

Mentoring – Therapy – Cardio – Study-Learn – Fun/Play – Nature – Nutrition – After Care Support – Healing Circles – Spirituality

Clients begin with a comprehensive psychological assessment, followed by two weeks of treatment at the Alive for Wellness Centre located in Kelowna BC, Canada. They then return home for one week, after which they return to the Alive Centre for two more weeks. On completion of the four-week program at Alive, a two-month aftercare program is carried out with the participation of the client’s healing circle. The participants of the healing circle include the Alive staff, family members and friends. Members of the healing circle are taught how to best help the client and continue providing support to the client while back home. At least three contacts per week are made by the Alive staff, the client, and the healing circle participants.

To learn more about Alive for Wellness email here vic@strongmentalhealth.net