At least 1 in 11 people experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in their lifetime. Diagnosis in women is twice as likely as in men.
Post-traumatic stress disorder is a mental health condition caused by a terrifying event. PTSD is treatable and a patient is able to live their lives. There are various treatment options that are available such as psychotherapy and medication.
Some patients may use several different kinds of treatment until they find what works for their symptoms.
Read on to learn all about post-traumatic stress disorder treatment.
1. PTSD Treatment: Psychotherapy
The main goals of PTSD therapy are:
- To help you develop coping mechanisms
- To help you regain your confidence and self-esteem
- To improve the symptoms to manageable levels
- Create an awareness intellectually, emotionally, and physically that the event is over and that the client is safe.
2. PTSD Treatment: Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)
CBT therapy asks questions and guides patients to help them understand their thinking and behavioral patterns. It also involved education about how trauma impacts one’s thinking and physiology so that the patient has a better understanding of their own experiences. After a traumatic experience or experiences, patients often internalize a lot of shame and fear that must be addressed in order for the patient to be able to live more fully. In CBT, the therapist will assign the client homework where they have to practice certain skills in order to reduce the PTSD symptoms. These often focus on avoidance, negative self-concept, and distorted perceptions of threat. The patient applies what they learn from the therapy session in their daily routine.
Not all therapists have training specific to treating trauma so it is important that you verify that your clinician has both training and experience treating PTSD.
Components of Cognitive Behavior Therapy
The components of Cognitive behavior treatment include Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT)
Cognitive Processing Therapy
CPT Therapy is a structured, manualized treatment that is highly focused on specific skills to help the client reduce negative thoughts and behaviors that are a result of the trauma. This treatment involves active participation of the client and helps them change their negative thoughts by doing simple assignments.
CPT Therapy focuses on the patient and helps them see themselves as worthy. It also helps them shape their thoughts about the people around them and the world as a whole.
Prolonged Exposure Therapy (PET)
This type of treatment has the patients relive memories of the traumatic experience. They are walked through the events in chronological order and taught skills to help themselves relax more. Sometimes they may even record themselves re-telling the story of what happened and are instructed to listen to it at home, in between sessions. The hope is that by being exposed to the story over and over, while learning skills to become more relaxed, that the person will become desensitized to the event and less reactive to it. Rather than trying to avoid the trauma experience, the patients confront and gain command of their negative feelings and feel a greater sense of control.
For long term PTSD recovery, patients face their fears and develop coping mechanisms. This helps patients feel empowered because they know if they are triggered by something in their environment, they know they can cope with it and not become destabilized.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
Using a very specific treatment protocol, clients recall traumatic events while concentrating on a sound, light or vibrating paddles that are held in the hands. While doing the EMDR therapy, they think about what they felt emotionally. and thought about themselves during this event and work to re-write this experience so that it is less negative and damaging. After successful EMDR therapy, a person should be able to think about the traumatic experience without becoming emotionally overwhelmed. It also helps to reduce shame and negative feelings towards the self, a common consequence of traumatic stress.
This treatment helps you to create positive thoughts while replaying the trauma.
3. PTSD Treatment: Somatic Experiencing
Somatic Experiencing is a type of trauma therapy that involves the tracking of bodily sensations as a means of addressing dysregulation in the nervous system. This type of treatment can be used to treat a variety of types of traumas, such as shock trauma, developmental traumas (which can take place over the course of years), or accidents. It focuses primarily on the concept of “pendulation” where the nervous system goes from a state of activation, as in what happens during the fight or flight response, and works to settle the nervous system so that the individual is more resilient and capable to managing stress more effectively. Similar to EMDR, after successful treatment, the person will feel more able to recall these previously traumatic experiences in a way that does not cause them pain or distress and will also find that they cope more effectively in general because they are not in a constant state of hyper-vigilance.
4. PTSD Treatment: Medication for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Medication can be helpful in treating PTSD symptoms such as depression and anxiety. There are even medications available now that help reduce the experience of nightmares, a common symptom of PTSD.
Treatment will determine the prescription(s) you may need. Medication can help make your symptoms more manageable, especially anxiety or irritability, however, it generally is not sufficient to fully resolve the trauma. That must be done in therapy.
Live Your Life Again After Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Treatment
Discuss post-traumatic stress disorder treatment with a professional mental health care provider. They understand the benefits, risks and potential side effects of different treatment interventions. The good news is that there is hope for you!
I’m Dr. Amy Boyers, a Clinical Psychologist in Miami who specializes in eating disorder treatment (all types including anorexia treatment, bulimia treatment, and binge eating treatment) and other long term conditions, including addictions, bipolar, and OCD. I offer personalized and sophisticated eating disorder treatment services, individual and family psychotherapy, family member support and education, in-home meal support, cognitive behavioral therapy, anxiety treatment, depression treatment, and much more.
Have any questions about the eating disorder recovery process? I’d be happy to answer them. Simply reach out to me and I’ll be sure to answer anything you want to know.
I look forward to helping you obtain a brighter tomorrow.