Post-traumatic stress disorder treatments often go very underestimated in today’s society. While many people are aware of what PTSD is and how it affects those who suffer from it, lots of people are not aware that there are various forms of treatment available. While treatments may not eliminate the disorder itself, they will help to make life much more enjoyable for those who live with the disorder on a daily basis.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is caused when a person witnesses or experiences extreme trauma. It is often seen in veterans and those who have been subjected to abuse at some point in their life. Its severity can range from very mild, where the affected person is able to function normally, to very severe, where those who suffer from the condition are subjected to constant flashbacks and anxiety attacks centring from their trauma. These flashbacks can incapacitate a person and make it very difficult for them to lead a normal life.
Post-traumatic stress disorder can make life miserable for those who struggle with the symptoms of this mental health disorder. It can cause a whole range of symptoms from general anxiety to full-blown flashbacks and violent outbursts. Years ago, it was thought that there was not much to be done for those who live with PTSD other than to try and mask or lessen the symptoms by way of medication and psychotherapy. Patients that were found to have the disorder were prescribed medications and therapy to help them to deal with the symptoms of the disorder, but not the actual disorder itself and the triggers that caused it. In recent years, however, doctors have found that certain therapies are actually able to help target the root of the symptoms and help people to mentally heal from their traumas rather than just mask the symptoms.
There are many ways to lessen the unpleasant symptoms of living with Post-traumatic stress disorder, and what works for one person may not work for another. Some of the therapies that are now being offered have been proven to be quite helpful for many people with moderate to severe PTSD. Not only do these treatments help with the severity of symptoms, but they also help to heal the brain. Below are some of the most common types of PTSD therapies out there today and a little bit about how they work to help people heal.
Prolonged Trigger Exposure Therapy
Trigger exposure therapy is proving to be one of the most helpful treatments for those who suffer from PTSD. This therapy is exactly what it sounds like; The patient and their doctor work to identify their triggers, whether it be certain people or places, or even smells that can act as a trigger for a panic attack or violent episode.
Once a trigger has been identified, the patient is then exposed to their trigger, starting in small and short sessions. Usually, doctors will use this as a gauge to see how sensitive their patient is to their triggers. This will give them an idea of how aggressive they can be during treatment and how they can best help their patient to heal from their traumatic past.
During this time of trigger exposure, patients are asked to use coping skills that they would have learned in therapy, such as visualizations, mindful meditation and deep breathing, just to name a few. After they are able to handle their triggers for a short amount of time, they then prolong the amount of time they are having to cope with their triggers.
With prolonged exposure to the things that trigger their PTSD, patients brains are actually able to process their triggers easier, and will not have such a strong response to these triggers. This kind of therapy is all about rewiring the brain to accept that triggers are not as harmful as they may seem and that a fight or flight response is not always necessary for survival.
Cognitive Processing Therapy
Cognitive Processing therapy is another PTSD therapy that is designed to rewire the brain in an effort to control, and ideally eventually eliminate, the onset of negative symptoms associated with PTSD, such as flashbacks and intrusive thoughts. Basically, this therapy works by helping people to develop and improve already existing coping skills through cognitive therapy. This therapy helps people to identify triggering and intrusive thoughts and helps them work through them as they come up by using a range of coping skills such as mindfulness meditation, deep breathing, redirecting thoughts, visualizations and stims (such as fidget toys).
EMDR ( Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing)
EMDR therapy is designed to help a person make more sense of what caused their PTSD in the first place. In the case of veterans and victims of abuse, patients can often times become confused about what happened during a certain traumatic event. Making sense of traumatic events is all part of the healing process and is necessary for any and all therapies to be effective.
In EMDR therapy, doctors use a combination of light, sound and movement to help patients concentrate and focus on their traumas to make sense of them. This opens them up for more treatment options and helps in the development of coping skills which will help them later in their healing journey.
Post-traumatic stress disorder is a very complicated disorder, one which can require several different therapies in order to deal with and moderate symptoms. With the right knowledge and the right approach, people who suffer from PTSD will be better able to manage their triggers and hopefully lead a relatively normal life.