Recovering from trauma can be challenging. Since the right PTSD treatment is different from one person to the next, the recovery process can be slow going as you work to find what’s best for you.
Sometimes finding the best PTSD treatment requires trial and error. Still, the treatments available are the same for everyone. Let’s look at the basics of PTSD and the most common treatment options.
What Are the Effects of PTSD?
The effects of trauma are complicated and everyone responds to traumatic experiences differently. When you experience a traumatic event, your hypothalamic, pituitary, and adrenal systems release a surge of hormones that prepare you for a reaction. Most people either fight, flee, or freeze.
You may notice your heart rate speed up, muscles tense, and your breathing become more rapid. For some people, vision may narrow as panic sets in. You can also experience short-term memory loss, among other symptoms.
Trauma can cause both short-term and long-lasting physiological, neurological, and emotional effects. When these effects don’t go away and start to impact your daily life, you may be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Finding a suitable PTSD treatment plan is vital to your quality of life. If you’ve been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, several PTSD treatment options are available.
What PTSD Treatment Options Are Available?
Years ago, PTSD was solely attributed to military personnel exposed to the traumatic events of war. Today, PTSD has been the focus of significant research. Researchers discovered that any individual who has experienced trauma can be diagnosed with PTSD. Since then, several PTSD treatment options have become available to reduce the effects and combat symptoms of the common disorder.
Psychotherapy, neurological therapy, prescription medications, and at-home coping tools can be used individually or combined to effectively treat PTSD. Psychologists and counselors now have specific types of therapy that can be used for even the most complex PTSD treatment. The benefits of these therapies include reduction of anxiety and depression, decreased chance of relapse, and improved quality of life.
Psychotherapy for PTSD Treatment
Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, has been known to be one of the best PTSD treatment options. The most effective form of psychotherapy in treating PTSD is cognitive-behavioral therapy. This form of talk therapy aims to identify and correct unhealthy thought patterns.
Other forms of psychotherapy for PTSD treatment include:
- Cognitive Processing Therapy– CPT is based on the idea that most individuals cannot fully process what happened to them following a trauma. As you try to understand the event and what happened to you, you can begin to jump to conclusions that lead to unhealthy thoughts. For example, you might feel you can’t trust anyone as a result of your trauma. Cognitive processing therapy identifies these types of thoughts and helps you restructure them in a healthier way.
- Prolonged Exposure Therapy– Prolonged exposure therapy is another type of PTSD treatment that helps you change your thought patterns. You start by learning more about your PTSD symptoms. Then your therapist helps you gain the skills necessary to calm yourself and cope with your symptoms. For example, if you’ve developed a fear response to danger, you’ll learn how to face frightening situations. Once you’ve learned self-calming techniques, you’ll create a hierarchy of what you fear and be exposed to your fears in stages. Over several months of treatment, you’ll be able to face your highest level of fear without a negative response.
Many long-term effects of PTSD are neurological. That’s why some effective PTSD treatment focuses on the brain and nervous system. These treatment options have been known to be effective at restoring function and reducing your symptoms. They include:
- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing– EMDR is a therapy that uses repetitive movements to interrupt the pattern of traumatic memories you have. You and your therapist will discuss your trauma and select a memory that is giving you the most symptoms. As you think about that memory, your therapist will guide you through a series of eye movements that helps you reframe the memory in a better light. Research has shown that using EMDR for PTSD treatment can reduce anxiety, depression, fatigue, and paranoia.
- Emotional Freedom Technique– Also known as tapping, EFT is similar to acupressure. It is a type of massage treatment that uses physical pressure to relieve pain and muscle tension on sensitive points of the body. Your therapist will teach you how to tap certain rhythms on your hands, head, face, and collarbone as you reframe your memories of a traumatic event. Tapping has been known to be an effective PTSD treatment for anxiety, depression, and pain. It is often used along with psychotherapy.
PTSD Treatment Medication
According to the American Psychological Association, antidepressants are also an effective treatment option for PTSD. The APA recommends selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs for PTSD treatment. Common options include Paxil, Prozac, and Zoloft.
At-Home Coping Skills
There are a lot of things you can do at home to help you deal with the symptoms of PTSD. This includes:
A great way to process trauma is to write about it. Research shows that combining writing with other therapies can help shorten treatment time. You don’t need to write about your traumatic events for PTSD treatment with writing, but you can write about how you feel.
Yoga or Meditation
Studies also show that meditation and yoga can be helpful for PTSD treatment. While they won’t provide complete relief, researchers recommend these strategies in addition to therapy and medication. Yoga can help regulate breathing and meditation can give you a greater sense of control over intrusive memories.
Find the Best PTSD Treatment to Improve Quality of Life
Although living with PTSD can be challenging, there are many treatment options available to improve your quality of life. If you’ve been diagnosed with PTSD or feel you may have the disorder, our trauma therapy treatment programs can help! Contact us today to schedule a consultation with a mental help professional who can help you control your symptoms.