Treatment of PTSD
Generally PTSD is treated using one or a combination of the following therapies:
- group therapy
- medications, generally antianxiety drugs & antidepressants
- eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)
As a rule, treating PTSD at early stages has better chances for earlier & complete recovery. In addition it will decrease the overall negative impacts of the trauma. The best way to help someone affected by a trauma is to get them to a mental health specialist as soon as possible. Depending on the situation and the condition of the patient, a unique treatment plan is chosen for the specific situation.
Psychotherapy is generally an undivided part of treating mental disorders and PTSD is not an exception. Some therapy sessions can be necessary with family members or the partner. Types of psychotherapy that can be used for treating PTSD can include one or a combination of following:
- exposure therapy
- anxiety management
- cognitive therapy
- relaxation training
- trauma debriefing
- critical incident debriefing
- supportive psychotherapy
- blogging or diary keeping
- creative arts
Only qualified specialists should attempt complex procedures like trauma debriefing or critical-incident stress debriefing, since these have the power to retraumatize the victim if they are not performed correctly & with utmost caution.
Generally, the goals of psychotherapy include helping the victim to engage with the trauma memory in a healthy way, assist the victim in correcting dysfunctional cognitions followed by the trauma, help them out of social isolation & ability to develop trust in other people.
Group therapies for PTSD usually consist of a small group of people who went through a similar traumatic event. The victims share experiences with each other and share & learn techniques to cope with the trauma & symptoms. Generally group therapy for those suffering from PTSD proves to be very helpful.
Medications prescribed for PTSD are generally used to treat depression or anxiety. Major categories include:
- serotonin receptor partial agonists
- selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors
- tricyclic antidepressants
- MAO inhibitors
Virtually every class of psychotropic agent is being used for PTSD treatment, due to biological abnormalities and other comorbid disorders associated with the post-traumatic stress disorder.
EMDR – Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing
EMDR is a relatively new type of therapy used for PTSD. It combines many elements of other therapies & helps the victim in reprocessing of traumatic information and experience. The therapy involves specific eye movements while discussing & remembering the traumatic event. This activity develops a better response & ability to process the trauma in the victim. EMDR is performed by highly skilled professionals only & has drawn a lot of interest from researchers.
Post-traumatic stress disorder generally coexists with other mental health disorders. Most common disorders that co-occur with PTSD are:
- depressive disorders
- substance abuse disorders
- anxiety disorders
Symptoms of comorbid conditions are addressed during PTSD treatment as well.
PTSD is generally treated on an outpatient basis, however, in cases when the symptoms are severe, inpatient treatment can be necessary.