How to treat PTSD
Directly addressing the issues that are part of post-traumatic stress disorder has been demonstrated to not only serve to alleviate these issues, but to lower the symptoms and signs of PTSD.
In particular, rehearsing the methods of coping with distress (imagery rehearsal treatment), training with relaxation methods, positive self-talk, and screening for other issues such as sleep deprivation have been demonstrated to be particularly helpful in lessening the symptoms connected with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Drugs that Treat Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Drugs that are normally used for aiding post-traumatic stress disorder victims are serotonergic antidepressants (SSRIs) such as fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft), paroxetine (Paxil), and drugs that help lower the visible symptoms and signs connected with disease, such as clonidine (Catapres), guaneficine (Tenex), and propranolol.
Patients with post-traumatic stress disorder are less likely to go through a relapse of their condition if antidepressant therapy is continued for a minimum of one year. SSRIs are usually the first batch of drugs that have obtained approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the control of post-traumatic stress disorder.
These drugs have been demonstrated to help PTSD victims cope with information absorbed from their environment (stimuli) and to lower fear. Scientific experimentation also suggests that this batch of drugs tends to lower anxiety, depression, and panic attacks. SSRIs may also help lessen aggression, impulsivity, and suicidal feelings that could be connected with this illness.
More on the Treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Other drugs that act indirectly but are potentially helpful in dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder involve mood stabilizers such as lamotrigine (Lamictal), tiagabine (Gabitril), 1xslots, divalproex sodium (Depakote), and antipsychotics, such as risperidone (Risperdal), olanzapine (Zyprexa), and quetiapine (Seroquel). A few of the mood stabilizers also act as antipsychotics.
Antipsychotic drugs seem to be very useful in the control of post-traumatic stress disorder in those who are known to have irritability, dissociation, hypervigilance, agitation, suspicion (paranoia), or short breaks in being in touch with real life (short-term psychotic reactions).
Benzodiazepines (mild tranquilizers) have recently been connected with a number of issues, including withdrawal symptoms and signs. Knowing the risks associated with overdose also has been significant in helping patients with PTSD.
Recovery From Post-Traumatic Stress is Possible
The prospects for recovery from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder are good, but the most common treatment choice for PTSD is not a single known cure. Instead, most mental health organizations recommend a custom package of different approaches to treat the disorder, each designed to address specific issues of individual victims.
PTSD Treatment Methods
Every case is unique, but some PTSD treatment methods are more widely used than others. According the Veteran’s Administration National Center for PTSD, combined treatment approaches for the disorder may include any or all or the following treatment modalities:
- Drug therapy consists of mostly anti-anxiety or antidepressant medications. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in January 2010 also suggests that morphine and other opiates can disrupt the way the brain encodes traumatic memories if given within hours after the initial trauma.
- Talk therapy, especially Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a short-term, results-focused therapeutic method that helps patients reframe’ their perceptions and thoughts about the trauma so as to lessen the emotional charge.
- EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. EMDR is a form of cognitive therapy during which the PTSD client recalls traumatic events while watching the therapist’s moving finger. The theory behind EMDR is that certain eye movements are incompatible with fear and panic. By reprocessing the trauma while the therapist deliberately redirects the patient’s eye movements, the difficult emotions are modified.
- Practical counseling and social work both play an important role in treatment. PTSD victims benefit from exploring practical strategies for handling emotions and social stress while cognitive therapy is progressing.
- PTSD treatment is a process that involves giving the client a place to talk about and review the trauma while medication lessens the worst symptoms and practical advice helps with daily functioning. Over time, PTSD symptoms resolve spontaneously. Symptoms of PTSD do not resolve without treatment.
According to the Department of Veteran’s Affairs, U.S. soldiers and National Guard members who see three, four, or even five consecutive tours of duty in combat zones in Iraq or Afghanistan or both are at increasing risk for developing PTSD.
The Costs of Not Treating PTSD
The cost of sending untreated PTSD victims back into combat is high. Hyper-reactivity is a primary symptom of the disorder that makes soldiers unable to respond appropriately in combat situations. Soldiers may overreact when no action is needed or not react at all when it is. According to the National Center for PTSD, the risk of suicide increases for soldiers with PTSD, with men slightly more prone to suicide than women.
When soldiers are sent home with untreated PTSD, the Veteran’s Administration also has discovered that they have higher rates of divorce, have trouble more securing employment and staying employed, and are more prone to addiction and alcoholism.
On the civilian side, the National Alliance for Mental illness reports that minorities and women are at greater risk for developing post-traumatic stress, yet mental health services are not always easily accessible to these groups. PTSD victims who receive no treatment experience ongoing problems with daily functioning.
The Prognosis For Recovery From PTSD
PTSD responds well to treatment, but drug therapy alone is not sufficient to cure it, according to a review of current treatment choices done by Consumer Reports magazine. When treatment is available and when the client sticks with treatment for at least one year or longer, most cases of PTSD can be cured completely or managed so that the PTSD victim can lead a functional, full life.
The Consumer Reports data also shows that approximately one out of three PTSD sufferers will continue to experience symptoms throughout their lives, but that most can be helped to cope with these symptoms through ongoing counseling. Most people who get treatment within the first year after the traumatic event will experience a near-complete recovery, with only occasional relapses occurring later in life.