Living each day with the effects of post-traumatic stress means going through the pain of anxiety, panic attacks, stress, and trauma. For any survivor of a serious accident, PTSD is an unwarranted consequence of someone else's negligence. That's why it’s important to know which treatment options are available.
Treatment varies (and finding the best one for you can take time), but it’s important to explore what is available to you and what treatment would be most beneficial.
If you need practical, concrete ways to deal with the symptoms of post-traumatic stress, read "9 Ways to Deal with the Daily Effects of PTSD" today.
The Types of PTSD Treatments Available
Treatment for PTSD is broken down by treatments backed by the most research, treatments with some research, and non-researched treatments.
Most Commonly Recommended Treatments:
Trauma-focused psychotherapies helps victims face the trauma using visual aids, talking about the incident, and processing the traumatic memory. This can include prolonged exposure to the negative feelings, processing therapy to reframing negative thoughts, or brief eclectic psychotherapy designed to practice relaxation skills. The trauma-focused psychotherapies with the most effective evidence are:
- Prolonged Exposure (PE): Teaches victims how to gain control of negative feelings by talking about the trauma and doing some of the activities have been avoided.
- Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT): Teaches victims to refrain from negative thoughts about the trauma. Discussing about the traumatic experience to verbal and written communication is commonly used in this therapy.
- Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR): Helps victims process and make sense of the trauma.
Antidepressant medicines are often used to deal with the emotional distress that builds because of PTSD. Some are shown to have worked well, but it is advisable to discuss with your doctor before starting any medication regimen.
Other Research-Backed Treatments for PTSD
Stress inoculation training (SIT) can teach skills and techniques that help victims manage the stress levels and anxiety associated with PTSD. Stress inoculation training uses psychological resilience to help face the effects of stress head-on in three phases: the conceptualization phase, skills acquisition and rehearsal phase, and application and follow-through phase. These phases are defined in the following ways:
- Conceptualization phase: Patients understand the stress they are feeling, as well as identifies potential stressors they may face. Patients are also taught to differentiate the differences between the stressors and their reactions based on what can and cannot be changed, and adjust accordingly.
- Skills acquisition and rehearsal phase: Patients are taught skills including emotion regulation, relaxation, cognitive appraisal, socialization, and communication, as well as problem-solving.
- Application and follow-through phase: Patients are given chances to practice the coping skills they have learned. Simulation methods help the patient include visualization exercises, role-playing of feared situations, and more.
Present-centered therapy focuses on areas of a survivor's life being affected by PTSD, such as work or marriage. Rather than focusing on the past and the causes of trauma, PCT keeps the focus of treatment on present struggles and dysfunction. PCT patients develop the following skills:
- Altering current patterns and behaviors
- Learning the use of problem-solving strategies focused on current issues
- Using psycho-education for the impact of the trauma on the patient’s life
Interpersonal psychotherapy focuses on PTSD’s impact on interpersonal relationships. This treatment aims to improve a survivor's social functioning to help reduce the stress and anxiety they feel.
Alternative treatment options include, but are not limited to:
- Biological treatments
No specific treatment is right for everyone. You can discuss these various treatment options with your doctor to determine which ones are best for you based on the benefits and possible side effects.
Why Isn’t Treatment Discussed More Openly?
Not only is treatment not openly discussed—the impact of PTSD, in general, is rarely discussed. As a society, we need to invest in treating a problem that affects 5.2 million people every year. PTSD often leads harmful side effects like dissociation, lack of focus, or even suicidal thoughts. Treatments need to be openly discussed so that survivors know what is available to them to help them heal.