Post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD is a mental health condition that generally develops after a traumatic event. The condition commonly affects war veterans and people who experience abuse, car accidents, and other life-threatening situations. The affected individual may experience flashbacks to the triggering event, which can cause panic attacks, depression, anxiety, jumpiness, and trouble sleeping. Luckily, the recent rise in discussion and research around this condition means there are many treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder that can help people reduce their symptoms and deal with the long-term effects.
Prolonged exposure therapy is trauma-based. People with PTSD may avoid memories related to the trauma they experienced, and this type of treatment aims to help them confront those memories in a safe and secure environment. The idea behind this treatment style is that individuals who face their fears related to their trauma will begin to feel better and have fewer symptoms. A therapist helps his or her clients through breathing techniques to reduce anxiety, talk therapy, and coping mechanisms designed to enable them to confront the trauma head-on.
Cognitive processing therapy aims to help people with PTSD change the upsetting thoughts linked to the trauma, which can often change the way the individual looks at his or herself and others and can lead to avoidance or fear of social situations. The treatment encourages clients to look at these thoughts differently and aim to overcome them. Sessions usually involve discussing the trauma and associated feelings. The therapist may also suggest writing about the trauma, which can help with feelings of anger, sadness, and guilt.
EMDR or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing helps people with post-traumatic stress disorder make sense of what they have experienced. The treatment uses back and forth movements of a finger, light, or sound, which the client follows with his or her eyes as they picture their trauma in the mind. The goal is to, over time, reduce the pain and stress associated with the traumatic memories. In EMDR, clients think about their experiences rather than talk about them.
Brief eclectic psychotherapy teaches clients relaxation techniques to reduce symptoms and enable discussion about the trauma. In this type of therapy, clients write letters about their experiences and say goodbye to the negative thoughts holding them back. The letter is meant to deal with feelings of anger associated with the event in question and aims to change negative thoughts and feelings. This type of treatment is broken up into sixteen sessions that can last up to one hour each.
In written narrative exposure therapy, the client writes about the trauma they experienced. At the beginning of the session, the therapist gives the client a writing assignment and some alone time to complete it. When finished, the therapist and the client discuss the writing and the feelings associated with it. Writing about feelings is intended to help alleviate some of the fear, anger, sadness, and anxiety people with PTSD are often experiencing.
In narrative exposure therapy, the person with PTSD is required to start at the beginning of his or her life and tell their story based on each stressful event that has occurred, as well as some positive experiences. Telling a life story is intended to help the client understand what he or she went through. Upon completion of narrative exposure therapy, the therapist presents the client with written documentation to remind him or her of their progress.
Cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT helps people with PTSD overcome barriers and live happier lives. It can help change the way that person perceives certain situations, and make them less stressful. The therapist will provide skills to help the client identify how certain circumstances affect his or her emotions and strive to improve the way he or she feels by changing thinking processes around certain things. This one-on-one therapy can last for up to twenty sessions ranging from 30 minutes to one hour each.
Interpersonal psychotherapy focuses on the relationships the client has with people close to them and the effect PTSD has on those relationships. If a person caused or triggers the PTSD symptoms, the client may discuss his or her feelings about that person and find a way to cope with what happened. Some people with PTSD feel secluded fearful of going out and doing things with family and friends. This type of therapy aims to reduce these symptoms.
In stress inoculation training, the therapist will teach relaxation techniques and ways to cope with what happened. This is intended to help the client prepare him or herself in advance should something stressful happen, and give them the tools to handle the situation without getting excessively upset or anxious. This type of therapy usually takes place over 12 one-hour sessions, each one designed to bring the client closer to being able to deal with future stressors.
In some instances, a doctor may choose to prescribe drugs to alleviate some of the symptoms of PTSD. Anti-depressants can affect how a patient feels by changing the chemical composition in the brain. A chemical imbalance can cause depression and anxiety. Antianxiety medications are also a useful treatment option for PTSD. They can help alleviate panic attacks and stress. After receiving medications for PTSD, the doctor will schedule regular checkups to ensure they are having the desired effect.
This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.