Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) affects approximately 3.5% of adults in the US each year, and it is estimated that one in every 11 people will be diagnosed with it in their lifetime. PTSD is characterized as a type of anxiety disorder. It typically occurs after a deeply traumatic event in an individual’s life which can also include witnessing a traumatic event, even if the individual had no direct involvement in it.
PTSD typically occurs within three months of an event, although it can sometimes take a little longer to develop. The symptoms of PTSD often include insomnia and unpleasant and even painful emotions. It can also cause individuals to constantly relive the event that took place, leading to severe anxiety and depression. For many, it may feel like a never-ending state of being.
Fortunately, it can be treated, usually by using both short- and long-term psychotherapy and medications. These types of treatments are most successful when used together, and the medical and psychiatric communities are developing new methods of treatment all the time.
Let’s take a look at the different treatment options for PTSD and what’s to come:
Cognitive Behavioral Therapies (CBTs)
Most PTSD therapies fall under the CBT umbrella as the main goal is to change the thought patterns disturbing an individual’s life. The type of CBT therapy will also depend on the severity of the situation.
For example, Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) is a CBT therapy used to treat individuals who place the blame for the traumatic event on themselves. CPT focuses on helping them understand and accept that the event was out of their control to help them move forward.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
EMDR is a treatment method during which an individual concentrates on their trauma while watching or listening to something their therapist is doing. For example, moving a hand, making a sound, or flashing a light.
The goal is to create new patterns of thinking that revolve around something positive or neutral while the individual remembers their trauma. This typically takes about three months of weekly sessions, and so far, has seen great results.
Individuals with PTSD process apparent “threats” differently than others due to the neurotransmitters in their brain becoming unbalanced. This causes their fight or flight response to become more easily triggered, leading to hypervigilance and depression.
There are several types of psychiatric drugs, including antidepressants, that are prescribed for PTSD. Doctors usually start with medications that impact serotonin or norepinephrine (SSRIs and SNRIs) and will prescribe other medications as they observe what’s working and what isn’t.
MDMA is also beginning to make headlines for its potential to effectively treat PTSD. So far, it’s said to enhance psychotherapy by reducing anxiety during trauma memory recalling. It also helps individuals to feel better about themselves and others which increases the bond they create with their therapist and can enhance extinction learning.
Researchers are already in the third phase of clinical studies, with hopes for the treatment to gain approval for clinical use within the next two years.
Not everyone with PTSD will respond to the same treatment methods. That’s why it’s important for those with the anxiety disorder to understand what type of treatment options are out there. If you or someone you know is struggling with PTSD, we’re here to help. Contact us today to learn more about our treatment services and locations.