Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Treatments
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a devastating problem that afflicts millions of people around the world.
Although originally identified in individuals who had returned from fighting in wars, it is now known that post traumatic stress disorder or PTSD can be caused by any significant stressful event that overwhelms the mind’s ability to cope with what has happened. As a result, the body is frequently and sometimes continuously in a state of stress. A physician can help diagnose PTSD and can suggest treatments that will help you deal with this problem. However, you may also want to consider other forms of stress relief as well.
The Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Diagnosis
For years, people suffering from post traumatic stress disorder went undiagnosed. Their problems were dismissed and not given serious attention. However, that’s no longer the case. PTSD has now been officially added to the diagnostic manual used by psychiatrists and psychologists along with the criteria for making the diagnosis.
To have this problem, you first need to be exposed to an event that is perceived as both life-threatening and a source of intense horror or fear. Clearly, that would include being on the front lines in a battle zone or being attacked by an armed criminal. Other events may inspire similar reactions in different people.
After the original event, post traumatic stress disorder involves re-experiencing the event usually through flashbacks or nightmares.
Sufferers will also deliberately try to avoid anything that might make them think about the event. Additionally, the individual will experience what is known as intense arousal which means they may be overly vigilant, may have trouble going to sleep, or may have a difficult time controlling their anger.
To be diagnosed with PTSD, these problems must have lasted longer than one month and must also have impaired other parts of the person’s life, such as jobs and personal relationships.
Before the diagnosis is finalized, you will probably need to undergo a thorough physical to rule out any other causes for the symptoms. Once that is completed a treatment plan is usually determined.
Stress Relief Treatments for PTSD
Generally, the medical community will recommend a combination of psychotherapy and medication to help people who have been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder.
In some cases, alternative methods of stress relief, such as yoga and EMDR, have also been included in the treatment plan.
While these alternatives require more in-depth discussion, we’ll focus a little more on the traditional treatments initially.
A Standard Treatment Plan for PTSD
First, patients can expect to be treated through different psychotherapy approaches. Two of the most common methods used are exposure therapy and cognitive therapy.
Additionally, talk therapy and anxiety management may be used to supplement these other methods.
Exposure therapy is based on the idea of habituation. According to habituation, we get used to things that won’t be life-threatening and learn to accept them without fear or anxiety. For someone with PTSD, that means confronting the triggers of their anxiety and stress in a safe way so they can learn to be de-sensitized to them. This de-sensitization can be done in real life or in the imagination. With PTSD patients, especially those suffering from severe cases, the process may begin with imaginary confrontations and progress into real-life encounters.
Cognitive therapy is another possible psychotherapy method. This method seeks to change the way the person thinks about the triggers. This type of therapy involves helping the person understand the thoughts they are having which are causing the stressful reactions then encouraging them to see how those thoughts are leading to the undesirable behaviors and feelings. Finally, the therapy shows patients how to substitute the problem thoughts with positive ones to prevent future stress reactions.
A Biochemical Approach
In the past, medications were rarely used as part of the treatment of post traumatic stress syndrome because they were considered useless in helping patients find stress relief. Today, medications have become fairly standard parts of treatment. The two primary types of medications used are Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) and Tricyclic Antidepressants (TCAs).
TCA's have been used to treat depression in patients since the 1950’s and actually are believed to work in much the same way as SSRIs. They have also been successfully used in the treatment of a wide range of physical and emotional disorders, including anxiety, migraines, insomnia, narcolepsy, bulimia nervosa, and ADHD.
SSRI's are a newer medication that is now being widely used. Drugs like Paxil, Zoloft, and Prozac are all examples of SSRIs. They increase the amount of serotonin in the brain which is believed to alleviate depression and anxiety.
By combining these two treatments with other methods of stress relief, patients can experience improvement in their post traumatic stress syndrome symptoms.
A remark to take into account:
PTSD is sometimes wrongly spelled as "Post Tramatic Stress Disorder" or correctly referred to as "Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome".
Read about post traumatic stress syndrome
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