Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a concerning mental health problem, which can have a debilitating effect on one’s professional, social, personal, and interpersonal life.

PTSD is characterized by haunting flashbacks and nightmares of traumatic events experienced in the past, such as war, terrorist attack, life-threatening situation, death of a loved one, domestic violence or relationship conflicts, among others.

PTSD warrants attention in the view that it may cause severe disability and impairment as well as increase the risk of development of comorbid psychiatric disorders such as alcohol and/or drug abuse. The risk of developing PTSD in a lifetime ranges between 6.1 and 9.2 percent.

However, the good news is that PTSD can be managed through medication, undergoing psychotherapies, and building resilience through healthy lifestyle changes and meditation.

Treatments and Therapies

PTSD affects different people differently, so one treatment plan does not work for all. At Athena Behavioral Health, we consider credible clinical trials and recommendations for all our PTSD patients.

Evidences divide PTSD treatment into two broad categories:

  1. Strongly Recommended Treatments
  2. Conditionally Recommended Treatments
 

Strongly Recommended Treatments

This line of treatment includes four interventions that are found to be the most effective in treating PTSD.

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT targets negativity related to feelings, thoughts, and behaviors as well as current problems and symptoms. The therapy further focuses on changing troubling thoughts, feelings, and patterns of behaviors that impair functioning.

  • Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT): CPT is a form of cognitive behavioral therapy that encourages patients to challenge traumatic beliefs and practice techniques to change them.

  • Cognitive Therapy: Cognitive therapy is again inspired from CBT. This therapy focuses on modifying pessimistic evaluations and haunting memories of the trauma. At the same time, it aims at interrupting the vicious cycle of disturbing behavioral and/or thought patterns interfering with a person’s daily life.
  • Prolonged Exposure: Another specific type of CBT, prolonged exposure involves training individuals to face trauma-related memories, feelings and situations. It helps the patients develop the courage to live with those traumatic experiences rather than hiding and fearing them.

Conditionally Recommended Treatments

This line of treatment comprises three psychotherapies and four medications. These are called conditionally recommended as they are used only in specific cases and are associated with certain risks in addition to benefits.

  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy: EMDR is a structured therapy for PTSD that focuses on helping patients divert their attention from a traumatic event or experience. During this therapy, therapists teach the patients to remember the traumatic events without showing signs of distress.

  • Brief Eclectic Psychotherapy: This therapy combines the psychodynamic approach with elements of CBT in order to change the emotions of guilt and shame. The success of the intervention is dependent on the relationship between the patient and their therapist.

  • Narrative Exposure Therapy (NET): NET focuses on helping individuals cope with past traumatic experiences and live in the present. In the past, it has been used as a group treatment to help refugees.

  • Medications: Therapists usually prescribe antidepressants to treat PTSD. Antidepressants are effective in relieving PTSD symptoms, including worry, rumination, sadness, anger, and feeling numb inside. Other medications may also be prescribed to specifically treat PTSD-related symptoms such as sleep difficulties and nightmares.

    Generally four of these medications are prescribed to people battling PTSD: Sertraline, fluoxetine, paroxetine, and venlafaxine.

While these are the major interventions used to treat PTSD currently, we at Athena follow a strict protocol to decide the best treatment plan for our patients. The final decision is taken on the basis of inputs from best-in-the-class doctors and therapists to avoid any possible complication.

What Should be Your Expectations from Treatment

After treatment, patients would:

  • Learn to cope with trauma and its effects
  • Develop relaxation and anger-control skills to enjoy better quality of life
  • Learn healthy lifestyle tips for better sleep, diet, and exercise habits
  • Learn to identify and manage the feelings of shame, guilt, and traumatic memories

Advice for People with PTSD to Improve Treatment Outcome

For fast and long-term recovery people undergoing treatment are advised to:

  • Cooperate with their therapist during treatment
  • Engage in mild physical activity to minimize stress
  • Set realistic goals for themselves
  • Spend quality time in the company of trusted friends or relatives
  • Avoid topics or discussions that may trigger symptoms
  • Not expect immediate results from the treatment as symptoms take time to improve.

Typical Signs and Symptoms of PTSD

PTSD symptoms may appear from one month to several years after a traumatic event. These are broadly divided into four types:

  1. Intrusive memories
  2. Avoidance
  3. Negative changes in thinking and mood
  4. Arousal symptoms (Changes in physical and emotional reactions)

It is important to note that different individual experience and respond to symptoms differently. The four types of symptoms are briefly explained below.

Intrusive Memories
  • Experiencing severe physical and emotional distress in response to the memories of a traumatic event
  • Unwanted, repetitive trail of distressing memories
  • Experiencing the re-occurrence of the traumatic event (flashbacks)
  • Having haunting dreams or nightmares of the traumatic event
Avoidance
  • Trying to avoid people, places, activities or people that bring back the haunting memories of a past traumatic event
  • Experiencing negative changes in thinking and mood, even at the slightest hint of the trauma
Symptoms of negative changes in thinking and mood
  • Feeling hopeless about the future
  • Having negative thoughts about yourself, and those around
  • Unable to maintain close relationships
  • Having a sense of detachment from family and friends
  • Losing interest in activities once enjoyed
Arousal Symptoms
  • Frequent episodes of anger and irritability
  • Getting startled or frightened easily
  • Frequently experiencing a sense of danger
  • An overwhelming sense of guilt or shame
  • Exhibiting self-destructive behavior, including fast driving and excessive drinking
  • Unable to sleep well

It is Time to See a Doctor

If the above mentioned PTSD symptoms have been bothering you or someone you know for over a month, then it is time to seek expert opinion. Call our 24 x 7 helpline 9289086193 now to know more about our services and admission procedure for PTSD.
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