Trauma recovery is often a slow and challenging process that calls for a lot of work from the survivor and those administering PTSD treatment. It’s worth noting that there are diverse treatment options for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). What works for one survivor might not work for another. Various factors, such as the severity of the trauma and the survivor’s responses to the trauma, can result in varying levels of effectiveness in PTSD treatment. In this article, we’ll elaborate on what PTSD is and what the various PTSD treatments are.
What is PTSD?
PTSD is an anxiety disorder that arises in survivors of trauma.
The human body contains various hormones. They control when we sleep, when we wake up, when we eat, when we fight, run, or even feel excited.
PTSD results from the body producing hormones from the pituitary glands, adrenal glands, and hypothalamus. A combination of these hormones results in the body’s response to a traumatic event. The base reactions are fight, flight, and freeze.
The production of the fight or flight hormones in response to a traumatic event often results in increased heart rate, breathing, and muscle tensing. You might go into a state of panic, resulting in a narrowed vision and temporal loss of short-term memory. In cases of sexual assault, many survivors report the freeze response where they may feel paralyzed or have an out-of-body experience that prevents them from fighting or flighting.
PTSD is an after-effect of trauma, a situation where the above-stated responses continue long after a traumatic event. The symptoms typically last weeks, months, and years depending on an individual and the level of PTSD treatment they receive. Symptoms can come in the form of PTSD nightmares or panic attacks. Your mind either recreates the traumatic event, or the environment around you mimics the traumatic scene.
You might experience triggers, such as smells, objects, and more that remind you of the experience you had. For instance, a person might associate cold weather with their trauma if it occurred in the winter. They may begin to feel seasonal PTSD when the temperature starts to freeze.
PTSD can is diagnosed if these symptoms persist for more extended periods. Study shows that PTSD is quite common, and 20 percent of trauma survivors develop symptoms after a traumatic effect.
Four PTSD Treatment Options
Much research has been conducted into PTSD, resulting in several treatment options for the anxiety disorder. Some of these treatment options include:
4.Other coping tools for home use
All these PTSD treatment options have been under study for years now, and they have proved effective in treating PTSD.
Most Effective PTSD Treatment Plans
Therapy is an effective method of treating PTSD. A licensed psychotherapist or trauma social worker will be able to provide you with therapy-based support for your PTSD treatment. In therapy, you will:
- Learn the coping skills for dealing with PTSD
- Improve and minimize the symptoms of PTSD
- Restore your confidence and overcome low self-esteem
There are two main types of PTSD therapy treatment options, namely, psychotherapy and neurological therapy. Under each treatment type, there are various therapy techniques therapists use to treat PTSD.
Psychotherapy PTSD Treatment
Psychotherapy entails psychological methods such as talking or continued interaction with the traumatic event, intending to alter behavior and response to the traumatic events. It helps shed light on the events of the traumatic scene, enabling the victim to tackle them, thus overcoming them.
Psychotherapy is an effective method of treating PTSD. It allows you to talk about or confront your trauma, which will enable you to process the events better. This PTSD treatment is exposure aimed at helping you understand what causes panic attacks or nightmares. And by getting to the root cause of the trauma, you can confront it and handle it better.
Several psychotherapy methods, such as cognitive processing therapy, prolonged exposure therapy, and group therapy sessions, are effective too.
Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT)
CPT is a 12-session therapy process that entails working with your psychotherapist to process the traumatic event. You can either engage in writing or talking sessions, enabling you to go through the entire traumatic experience. The process allows you to gain a better and healthier insight into the root cause of the trauma.
Cognitive processing therapy is centralized on the notion that your mind didn’t fully process the chronology of events during the traumatic event. The incomplete processing results in cloud understanding, which might result in trauma.
The belief is that after the events, you tried to process the events to understand what affected you. In processing, it’s common for most people to come to some conclusions that might not be healthy.
And the effect of these unhealthy negative thought patterns is negative behavioral patterns. For example, you might conclude that the trauma was a result of trusting people. By processing the events, you might then determine that it’s wrong to trust people.
CPT aims at helping you understand the chronology of events and disentangle the mumbled-up process to help you know what affected you. It allows you to deconstruct the unhealthy conclusions and healthily reconstruct them.
Often, when we try to process something on our own, we’ll repeat the same thought pattern in our mind over again, unable to find the way out. Having a professional as a sounding board can help break up the cyclical thoughts you’re contemplating. Thinking about trauma non-stop looking for new patterns or signs isn’t the way out of it.
Prolonged Exposure Therapy
Prolonged exposure therapy is similar to CPT in that it centers around the idea of changing unhealthy coping habits resulting from trauma. It helps untangle the events of the traumatic event to increase understanding.
To help alter the after-trauma thinking pattern, a prolonged exposure therapist commences by giving you some education on PTSD and its symptoms. The therapist then teaches you some healthy calming and coping mechanisms to help you deal with trauma.
After successfully learning some coping mechanisms, the therapist then formulates a hierarchical list of your fears, beginning with the least scary one up to the scariest ones. Then your therapist will start helping you confront your fears in that order. In this mode of therapy, you can’t advance to another higher fear in the list unless you convince your therapist that you can handle the current anxiety adequately.
The process continues for months, which you learn to cope with your traumatic memories better. The end game of this type of PTSD treatment therapy teaches you that the traumatic memories aren’t dangerous, and avoidance isn’t the best way to deal with them.
Having someone to talk about your anxieties with can help you realize that your mind may be magnifying fears. Often, people catastrophize in a high state of stress. PTSD is very stressful, so naturally, we catastrophize more. The PTSD treatment that walks you through your anxieties reminds you of how unlikely your worst fears will happen, will eventually calm the mind with time.
Neurological Treatment Therapy
PTSD has many side effects, and a lot of these effects are neurological. Therefore, neurological PTSD treatment therapy focuses on the nervous system and brain, intending to reduce the symptoms of PTSD and restore normal brain function and response.
The most common methods of neurological PTSD treatment therapy include:
Eye Movement Desensitization and Processing
This type of neurological therapy, also known as EMDR, is a method that entails repetitive eye movements aimed at interrupting and reorganizing the trauma-related memories you harbor.
EMDR usually begins with talking with your therapist to point out your traumatic memories. The therapist then sieves down to find the most traumatizing memory or fear.
With the exact trigger in mind, the therapist gets you talking about the traumatic memory while directing you through a row of vertical eye movements. As you continue to speak and process the traumatic event, the neurological eye movement allows you to reframe it to a more positive memory. Research by the National Institute of Health (NIH) concluded that EMDR helps significantly reduce the effects of PTSD.
Overall, it is a cost-effective method with few side effects, highly recommended by WHO as one of the most effective PTSD treatment methods.
Emotional (Tapping) Freedom Technique
Emotional tapping is a clinical therapy technique resembling acupressure that entails the use of massage treatment. The massage treatment applies physical pressure to specific body parts intending to reduce muscle tension.
Tapping mainly focuses on certain parts of the body such as the head, face, hands, or collarbone while simultaneously reframing the memories of the trauma. Typically, this type of PTSD treatment is used together with other therapy techniques such as exposure therapy.
Emotional tapping reduces the adverse side effects of trauma, such as depression and anxiety among victims. It’s also known to reduce the stress levels in your body, making it a very effective treatment method for PTSD.
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD is an after-effect of witnessing traumatic events, and it’s known to create adverse side effects among victims. It’s essential for people living with PTSD to seek professional help to better cope with trauma.
The various PTSD treatment options available include medication or therapy to help reduce the effects of PTSD. The most prominent methods of treatment for PTSD include psychotherapy and neurological therapy. Both unravel the events of the traumatic event, then help reorganize them more positively. It helps curb the negative side effects of PTSD.
It is advisable for people showing signs of PTSD to seek professional help to treat PTSD. PTSD treatment is necessary to improve your life quality and equip you with the tools needed to deal with trauma better. It’s also worth mentioning that you have a choice to choose the best PTSD treatment method for you, but you should decide after talking to a professional who will suggest the right treatment option for you. Between your PTSD treatment appointments, you can try this guided meditation for PTSD.