Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD is induced by witnessing a terrifying event, usually life-threatening. Common symptoms of the illness include nightmares, uncontrollable thoughts, flashbacks and severe anxiety and they can get worse or last for years on end. This is why it is advisable to seek treatment as soon as possible. PTSD is closely associated with soldiers on account of the many instances of traumatic events they experience while at war but this label can be applied to anyone going through the effects of a trauma.
Just as is the case for most mental illnesses, PTSD has no cure as of yet but its symptoms can be managed effectively to restore the individual being affected back to normal functioning. The best bet for the treatment of PTSD is a combination of therapy or counseling and medication. Individuals with PTSD can work through their triggering factors and learn effective, new ways to cope with the stress of the trauma experienced by working with a healthcare professional.
Drug treatments are typically not advised within 4 weeks of displaying symptoms unless the person’s distress is so severe that it can’t be managed solely by psychological means. It is typically best, to begin with, psychological treatment as opposed to using medication as your first and only solution.
Treatments for PTSD
PTSD therapies are aimed at controlling the symptoms and helping the individual to understand the causes better. Common symptoms affecting the lives of people with PTSD include:
- Emotional numbness
- Night terrors
Anyone with PTSD needs to be treated by mental health care professionals who are experienced such as mental health counselors who are experienced with PTSD. The different treatments some people try depend on what they find works for their symptoms.
Exposure therapy helps people face their fears and control them by exposing the individual to the trauma they encountered in a safe way. It makes use of mental writing imagery or visits to the place where the event occurred. A therapist uses the above tools to help PTSD- affected individuals deal with their feelings.
Cognitive restructuring treatment helps the individual make sense of the bad memories as at times people can remember the event differently from how it actually happened. The therapist helps the affected individual approach what happened from a realistic angle.
Stress inoculation training attempts to reduce the symptoms of PTSD by teaching the individuals how to reduce anxiety by helping them see their memories in a healthy way.
Virtual reality treatment includes custom virtual environments that have been designed carefully to support exposure therapy for anxiety disorders. It involves exposing the affected individual to a virtual environment containing the feared situation as opposed to taking them into the actual environment or having them imagine the traumatic experience. The virtual environment is controlled via a computer keyboard by the therapist ensuring complete control of the exposure and the capacity to manipulate situations to best suit the individuals within the confines of the therapist’s office.