PTSD Treatment in Baltimore

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a condition that can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, or ethnicity. According to the National Center for PTSD, an estimated 3.6 percent of U.S. adults aged 18 and older have PTSD in a given year. That’s approximately 8 million people who are affected by this disorder each year.

With years of experience in his field, Dr. Neal Ranen has witnessed the damaging effects that PTSD can have on an individual’s well-being and overall quality of life. PTSD is a disorder that can be brought on by exposure to emotionally distressing events. Its associated symptoms are overwhelming and may include recurring nightmares along with intrusive memories of the triggering experience; excessive fearfulness; guilt and shame; in addition to avoidance of anything related to what occurred. Find out more about PTSD and Dr. Ranen’s approach below.

What is PTSD?

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), is a psychiatric disorder that is brought on by a traumatic life event.  It is marked by symptoms like recurrent nightmares and persistent memories of the event, as well as heightened anxiety levels.

PTSD can influence someone’s day-to-day living and their connections with family members and friends. Anyone can suffer from PTSD, though some groups such as military personnel, first responders, and those who have experienced physical or sexual assault are statistically more likely to develop the disorder. If neglected, PTSD has the potential of producing persistent mental health issues that can have adverse effects on your daily life. If you think you might be going through symptoms associated with PTSD, contact Dr. Ranen to book an appointment to discuss your current challenges.

What are the symptoms of PTSD?

There are four primary categories of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms:

  • Re-experiencing: People who have gone through traumatic experiences are often plagued with vivid recollections and nightmares that replay the incident. They might even experience physical reactions, including sweating or a rapid heart rate when reminded of what happened.
  • Avoidance: In order to cope with trauma, individuals may choose to mentally distance themselves from reminders of the event including people, places, or activities. This can lead them to disengage and retreat socially from family, friends, and social circles that would otherwise provide support.
  • Negative changes in thoughts and mood: Feelings of self-doubt, pessimism regarding others, being emotionally vacant, and losing interest in activities that were once pleasurable are only a few signs of depression.
  • Increased anxiety and arousal: These symptoms may manifest as sleeplessness, agitation, outbursts of anger, disorientation, and an exaggerated startle response.

The intensity, length, and number of symptoms can fluctuate greatly between individuals. If your symptoms linger for more than one month or significantly hinder your life, then it may be time to find professional assistance.  Dr. Neal Ranen is such a professional and has years of experience in helping others who suffer from PTSD.

What causes PTSD?

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is the result of being subjected to a dramatic experience like an act of violence, natural disaster, combat exposure or other life-threatening event(s). I also often see a PTSD pattern associated with other types of life traumas, stressors, or losses, such as divorce, job loss, coping with children with significant struggles or adversity, or multiple or consecutive significant life stressors that test a person’s natural resiliency, their ability to keep bouncing back. Psychological, biological, and environmental influences can play a role in leading to the development of PTSD post-event.

  • Psychological: Mentally, those who have gone through mental health issues or come from households with a history of trauma may be more inclined to experience PTSD. Moreover, several components like the sense of no control during traumatic events, absence of external help after the episode, and difficulty in understanding emotions connected to it can all play into developing PTSD.
  • Biological: Research indicates that individuals with PTSD may have various biological components driving their symptoms, such as alterations in brain chemistry. Evidence suggests a hyperactive stress response system and an underperforming fear extinction system. These can perpetuate symptoms of the disorder despite the traumatic event being over.
  • Environmental: Traumatic stress can be caused by a variety of environmental factors like continued strain, limited resources, or insufficient social backing. PTSD can result from indirect contact to trauma such as through news sources and other media broadcasts.

Not everyone who goes through a traumatic experience will develop PTSD. The disorder manifests differently for every individual, and is the result of a mix of personal, psychological, biological, and environmental factors.  If you believe you may be suffering from PTSD or a related illness, please contact Dr. Ranen for an appointment.

How is PTSD diagnosed?

To be diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), an evaluation of one’s symptoms by a professional psychologist or psychiatrist is necessary. The diagnostic criteria are outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), as follows


  • Exposure to a traumatic event: Traumatic experiences can be direct or indirect. Long-term repeated exposure can also contribute to developing PTSD.
  • Intrusive symptoms: These include re-experiencing symptoms such as flashbacks, recurring memories or nightmares, and physical reactions (such as sweating or a racing heart) when reminded of the traumatic event.
  • Avoidance symptoms: It may be necessary to distance yourself from anything that might serve as a reminder of the traumatic event. The items that might be avoided include people, places, or activities. Withdrawing from friends and family or skipping social activities altogether are common avoidance tactics.
  • Negative alterations in cognitions and mood: Negative self-talk, emotional flatness, disinterest in hobbies, and disconnection from others are all indicators of PTSD.
  • Arousal and reactivity symptoms: Struggling to sleep, irritability, prone to angry outbursts, exaggerated startle, short attention span, and over-sensitivity are all signs of this condition.
  • Symptoms last for more than a month: To be considered a mental disorder, the signs must last for at least thirty days and cause distress or disruption in an individual’s life.

A diagnosis of PTSD requires a comprehensive evaluation by Dr. Neal Ranen which includes taking a medical and psychiatric history, as well as discussing the traumatic event and current symptoms. Additionally, standardized questionnaires or assessments may be used to help diagnose PTSD.

How do you treat PTSD?

Depending on the person, treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) generally consists of a mix of psychotherapy and medication. The most successful treatment plans for PTSD or any mental illness also include having a supportive group of friends, family, or loved ones.

  • Psychotherapy: Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is an effective treatment for PTSD that helps patients identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviors. Other forms of psychotherapy, such as exposure therapy and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), can also be helpful in treating PTSD.
  • Medication: Antidepressants like SSRIs can be an effective form of treatment for those suffering from PTSD, especially when paired with psychotherapy. For symptoms associated with anxiety or insomnia, anti-anxiety medications may also be prescribed. A new medication, MDMA (paired with psychotherapy), is on the horizon,
  • Lifestyle changes: Lifestyle modifications may also help in mitigating symptoms of PTSD. Exercise, relaxation techniques, stress-reduction strategies and social interactions can help.
  • Support networks: Having a compassionate, devoted circle of friends and family members can have an optimistic effect on handling symptoms of PTSD. Finding a connection to a support group with people experiencing like challenges is another way to strengthen your support network.

Why choose Dr. Neal Ranen?
Dr. Neal Ranen is a highly experienced and trauma-informed therapist who can be trusted for providing effective PTSD treatment. He specializes in the adult treatment of PTSD in the greater Baltimore area. His holistic treatment approach can provide a high recovery rate amongst his patients.