What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is classified by someone going through a terrifying event and having a difficult time moving past it. It affects you constantly, to the point you cannot function normally. It can be described as alterations in mood, sleep disturbances and other psychological manifestations that may result after having a distressing event in one’s life. The individual suffering from this kind of condition has their well-being effected in a drastic way; regrettably, many will even commit suicide. Nonetheless, PTSD treatment solutions are readily available, and it has been proven to decrease symptoms and help the person overcome the disorder.
Symptoms of PTSD
- Constant distressing memories of the event that re-occur and are unwanted
- Emotional distress or reactions to something that reminds you of the event
- Dreams or nightmares that are upsetting
- Reliving the event repeatedly
- Avoiding places or areas that remind you of the event
- Negative thoughts about yourself or the future
- Hopelessness and negative thoughts
- Feeling numb or emotionless
- No interest in activities that you used to like
- Detached from friends or family members
- Startled or frightened easily
- Difficulty concentrating
- Trouble with sleeping
- Shame or guilty feelings
Wondering if you are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)? It can be a draining process to find out if you have PTSD and it could potentially bring up many mixed emotions. It is common for individuals to have suffered from one or more traumas in their life including sexual trauma, physical or emotional abuse, or being involved in a severe accident or event. In order to get help for PTSD, the first step is determining whether you are suffering from it or not.
Treatment for PTSD
While prescription drugs have proven to be valuable in people struggling with PTSD, this alone cannot cure the symptoms associated with PTSD. Other forms of treatment for PTSD will be necessary to help handle the feelings and emotions that surround someone’s PTSD and the traumatic event that occurred.
Many physicians and psychologists recommend a combination of therapy and sometimes even prescription drugs to help the person regain control of some of their daily life. There are a number of resources available and the person must understand that they are not alone. With that being said, it is also important to remember that relief from PTSD normally takes time. There is no overnight remedy for this disorder, and a few may never completely eliminate the signs and symptoms. Treatment will help reduce the symptoms and allow the person to get their life back.
Most therapies will be described under the “cognitive behavioral therapy” methods. The different types of therapy will be dependent on the situation that the person went through and what their symptoms are.
Types of PTSD Treatment
Prolonged Exposure Therapy
Prolonged exposure therapy helps a person gradually get over the feelings and emotions that are associated with a traumatic event. Typically, therapy is provided over a period of time, usually a few months with weekly counseling sessions.
“Therapists begin with an overview of treatment and understanding the patient’s past experiences. Therapists continue with psycho-education and then will generally teach a breathing technique to manage anxiety.”
After an assessment is done, usually the person will begin to have anxiety due to the discussion on the traumatic event, allowing the therapist to determine the best methods to treat the feelings and anxieties happening.
Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT)
CPT is a type of therapy that is used to help an individual learn how to understand and cope with the challenges that are associated related to their unresolved trauma. It is often conducted over 12 therapy sessions with a licensed professional counselor and allows the patient to develop new understanding and concept awareness around their traumatic event to reduce the symptoms that the person experiences.
“The patient becomes more aware of the relationship between thoughts and emotions and begins to identify “automatic thoughts” that may be maintaining the PTSD symptoms.”
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
A type of psychotherapy treatment that is used to alleviate the negative symptoms associated with a traumatic event. Acting to ‘retrain’ your brain to and allow negative beliefs to be reformed.
“After successful treatment with EMDR therapy, affective distress is relieved, negative beliefs are reformulated, and physiological arousal is reduced. During EMDR therapy the client attends to emotionally disturbing material in brief sequential doses while simultaneously focusing on an external stimulus. “
Medications for PTSD
Selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRI’s) have been known to help reduce the negative symptoms of PTSD by allowing the chemicals in someone’s brain to be changed.
“These medications can help symptoms of depression and anxiety. They can also help improve sleep problems and concentration.”
Because of the potential for abuse, antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications are only used for a short period of time to treat depression and anxiety.
Stress Inoculation Training
SIT training acts similarly as a vaccine acts to treat a disease, by exposing the body to it and allowing the body to learn how to react and handle it. During therapy sessions, the person will be exposed to triggers, cues or reminders and prepare them to handle these difficult situations.
“By exposing you to milder forms of stress, your confidence is boosted so that you can respond quickly and effectively when trauma-related cues occur.”
Success of These PTSD Treatments
All of these PTSD treatments have been known to be successful in treating the symptoms of PTSD in patients, but some may be better than others. All depends on the individual circumstance and severity of the symptoms they are experiencing.
For some people, they may not like to be actively confronting the reminders and feelings they have surrounding their trauma and writing about the specific details of what happened to them. If this is the case, SIT might be a better fit for their treatment. For others, CPT and exposure therapy may be the best option for their circumstance.
Getting help right away for PTSD is imperative to a person’s success in getting help. If you or someone you know is suffering from PTSD, reach out for help as soon as possible. The right treatment is available for you or your loved one.