Effective Treatments For PTSD

soldier with ptsd feeling hopeless

There are two treatments commonly used to reverse PTSD: medication or psychotherapy. Both treatments can be used together, but what may work for one person may not work for another. Anyone who is suffering from PTSD should be treated by a trained mental health professional who has experience with the disorder.

Medication

Antidepressants like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors have been shown to reduce the symptoms of PTSD such as sadness, outbursts of anger, worry, and feeling numb inside. Another medication called Prazosin, which has not been approved by the FDA can treat the sleep problems and nightmares experienced by people who have PTSD.

Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy or talk therapy involves talking with a mental health professional to resolve the underlying cause of a mental illness. It also involves teaching the afflicted individual to cope with their symptoms in a healthy way. Psychotherapy includes:

  • Exposure Therapy. A therapist exposes a PTSD patient to their trauma in an attempt to help them face and control their fears. Having a PTSD patient relive their trauma is not an easy thing and must be done in a safe manner. The process is safely done using mental imagery, revisiting the place where the trauma occurred, or writing about the experience.
  • Cognitive restructuring. Some people suffering from PTSD may have an unrealistic recollection of how events occurred. They sometimes feel unwarranted emotions such as guilt and shame in response to their trauma. A therapist using this treatment will talk with their patient in a way that allows them to change their perspective of the way things happen to one that is more in line with reality.
  • Stress inoculation training. The primary focus of this treatment is to help a PTSD patient deal with their anxiety. Much like cognitive restructuring, a therapist using stress inoculation training guides the patient into looking at their memories in a healthy way.
  • Virtual reality treatment. Unlike exposure therapy, which has the patient revisit the place of their trauma or reimagine their trauma, patients undergoing virtual reality treatment are placed into a virtual reality environment that contains the feared situation. The therapist manipulates the virtual reality using a computer keyboard, which allows the therapist to control the level of exposure and construct a situation that is best suited for a particular patient.