People with PTSD typically receive treatments ranging from psychotherapy to medication or some combination of the two. Treatments that work for one person may not work for others. Some people need to try different things to find what works for their symptoms. Regardless of treatment options, it is important for people with PTSD to be treated by a mental health professional with experience.
The main course of treatment for people with PTSD is psychotherapeutic, meaning it focuses on behavioral components of the person’s life as well as emotional. Psychotherapy is found to be the most consistent when certain types are used consistently over a long period of time.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT is a type of therapy found to be most effective short and long term as far as results for the individual. Trauma-focused therapy like this kind means the traumatic event is the center of treatment. The focus is on identifying, understanding, and changing patterns so the person can engage in the best treatment possible.
- Exposure therapy: people face and control fears by exposing them to trauma memory they experience while in a safe space. Exposure can mean using mental imagery, writing, or visits that remind them of trauma to certain places. Virtual reality may be used also
- Cognitive Restructuring: this type of intervention helps people make sense of bad memories. It is common for people to feel guilt or shame about parts of their trauma not actually their fault. Cognitive restructuring helps people look at what happened to get a realistic perspective on the trauma. In CPT, a person looks at why the trauma occurred and the impact it has had on their journey.
- Prolonged Exposure (PE): form of CBT that relies more heavily on behavioral therapy techniques to help people approach trauma related memories, situations, and emotions. It helps people void trauma reminders that may help short term but prevents recovery from PTSD. PE uses imaginal exposures, which involves recounting of details of trauma. Research shows support in that PEs effectiveness varies across the spectrum.
- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR): form of therapy involving processing upsetting trauma-related memories, thoughts, and feelings. EMDR asks people to pay close attention to a sound or back and forth movement while thinking about trauma. This treatment is effective for treatment but research has shown the back and forth movement is not active but rather the exposure alone is the treatment component at work.
When looking into other types of treatment for PTSD, there are a few out there, along with medication, but may or may not be as effective. It depends on the person, their overall treatment goals, and how their mental health and addiction or substance use issues are being addressed, if present. These all factor into how well a person is able to cope, and live, with these challenges and stay focused on their overall health moving forward.
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