PTSD treatment alternatives available today – whether we refer to counseling, support groups, medications or EMDR – are successfully applied in other types of anxiety disorders as well and they are proven to be extremely effective when started during the early stages of the ailment’s development. From all the mentioned post traumatic stress disorder treatment categories, the most common ones are counseling methods as these are the least invasive, address not only PTSD symptoms, but also the potential causes of PTSD and therefore are very well tolerated by sufferers.
Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment for PTSD
This form of therapy appears to be the most effective in patients with post traumatic stress disorder as patients are helped to understand that their thinking patterns are unhealthy and excessive as well as they are helped to change the way they react to anxiety-inducing situations. These goals are achieved through classical counseling sessions and exposure therapy. The main purpose of the second technique is to gradually expose the sufferer to the thoughts, situations or objects that can trigger irrational fear.
During these PTSD treatment sessions, the patient will learn to:
- identify the triggers of distorted manifestations
- replace the upsetting anxiety-inducing thoughts with more balanced ones
- achieve control over his behavior patterns
- cope with feelings of guilt and anger
- talk about the suffered trauma in an objective, relaxed and detached manner
- build confidence and raise the self-esteem level
Although it may be hard and overwhelming to talk about stressful and traumatic situations at first, participating in daily or weekly cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and exposure therapy (ET) sessions will change the way the sufferer reacts to upsetting memories.
If no results are obtained through these post traumatic stress disorder treatment methods, family and group therapy may also be productive, as many PTSD sufferers feel safer and communicate better when surrounded by people they love. During group therapy, patients have the chance to talk about their experiences with other people dealing with similar problems and this generally increases the comfort and trust.
Cognitive-behavioral, exposure and group therapy usually last for 3 to 6 months, however there are cases in which 1 to 2 years are needed for complete recovery. In such situations an alternative treatment for PTSD, such as EMDR and medications may be recommended.
Medications Included in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Treatment Plans
Generally prescribed to relieve the secondary symptoms associated with PTSD, such as depression or anxiety, medicines don’t address the causes of post traumatic stress, but on the other hand they are effective in helping the patient feel less worried and nervous during or between therapy sessions.
SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) are the most commonly used medications in people affected by this anxiety disorder as they improve the levels of serotonin in the brain, therefore enhancing the mood. Citalopram, fluoxetine and sertraline are commonly recommended to PTSD sufferers.
EMDR as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Treatment
It is known that under extreme stress conditions, the part of the brain responsible for processing information is often interrupted or ‘frozen’. Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is a form of therapy meant to help patients change the way they react to memories of traumatic events. This treatment for PTSD combines elements of CBT with rhythmic movements or sounds that act by restoring the normal functioning of the brain.
During treatment the therapist moves his hands near to the sufferer’s face or generates rhythmic sounds and asks the patient to focus on those stimuli while talking about his memories, fears or worries. As a result, the sufferer feels more relaxed and achieves a better control over his behaviors and thoughts.
Although effective, this PTSD treatment is still being researched and tested and has a rather controversial status due to questions related to its theoretical foundation.