TREATMENT FOR PTSD
PROVEN? TESTED? CONTROVERSIAL?
WHAT’S THE ANSWER TO SURVIVING PTSD?
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – an old problem with a new awareness. It doesn’t affect everyone, but for those who it does affect, it’s a natural reaction to stimuli that takes the mind back to a time when trauma was present. You do NOT have to be in combat to be a PTSD survivor, but for our purposes, we will focus on the issues faced by our combat veterans.
PTSD has been called many names such as combat fatigue. shell shock, and soldier’s heart, just to name a few. Because we, as a society, don’t like to deal with issues that might be labeled in the category of mental illness, PTSD has been shoved under the proverbial carpet for years. With thousands of combat veterans returning from multiple deployments we can no longer shove this issue out of our sight.
The purpose of this web page will be to inform you of the options that are out there right now and the ideas or theories that are popping up that need to be studied further. We are not endorsing any treatments linked with this page. We are only presenting the information so that it can be explored. If we find that something has been proved to be ineffective or harmful, we will remove the link.
We appreciate your input. If you have heard of a new technique or theory not published on this page, please send us an email and share your information. Be sure to send us the data behind your information.
If you have proof that a treatment on this webpage is not effective, please bring it to our attention and send any accompanying evidence. We will take the appropriate action to have the information removed if that action is justified.
Before any treatment method is pursued, the PTSD survivor should be evaluated for other possible conditions or disorders that may be present. Often a treatment for PTSD may aggravate another condition, perhaps unknown to the survivor. Knowing of other conditions will help the health care professional to start in a direction that will likely be more effective, dealing positively with all facets of the problem.
We have listed treatment methods here alphabetically by name.
This technique allows a patient to see how the mind and body are connected. Biofeedback is a real-time recording and playback of the human body’s physiological response signals and the interpretation of those responses which allows a patient to see the mind-body connection via numerical and graphical readings on a computer screen. Being exposed to trauma has a tendency to make both the autonomic and central nervous systems dysfunctional. Biofeedback training teaches the patient to decrease the activation of the nervous system themselves rather than relying on medication to do it for them.
COGNITIVE BEHAVIORAL THERAPY (CBT)
A therapist helps the PTSD survivor understand and change how they think about their trauma. The goal is to understand how thoughts of the trauma cause you stress and make symptoms worse. Survivors learn to identify what is triggering feelings of fear and anger. The therapist helps the survivor to replace old thoughts with new thoughts that are more accurate and less distressing.
EMDR – Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing
This is a fairly new therapy for PTSD. Experts are still learning how EMDR works. The basic idea is that while talking about your memories, you’ll focus on distractions such as eye movements, hand taps, and sounds. Studies have shown that it may help with symptoms, but research also suggests that the eye movements are not a necessary part of the treatment.
This program is based on the idea that if people talk more about their fear, they they will become less fearful. Survivors may find that they are likely to be less afraid because they have talked about their experience and learned how to take control of thoughts and feelings. Two techniques used are desensitization (talking about memories less upsetting first, building to the more upsetting events later), and flooding (remembering a lot of memories at once.) Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing may also be taught.
HBOT – HYPERBARIC OXYGEN THERAPY
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy uses a special chamber, sometimes called a pressure chamber, to increase the amount of oxygen in the blood. The air pressure inside a hyperbaric oxygen chamber is about two and a half times greater than the normal pressure in the atmosphere. This helps your blood carry more oxygen to organs and tissues in your body. Hyperbaric therapy can help wounds, especially infected wounds, heal more quickly. Treatments for chronic conditions may be repeated over days or weeks.
This is likely the most common treatment for PTSD. Antidepressants and medications designed to help reduce anxiety are often prescribed, as well as medications to help survivors sleep. The medications are effective for some people, however, for many they cause more harm than good.
Prescribing medication is usually the first approach taken by care givers as it is likely viewed as the “easiest” way to deal with the problem. The easiest way is likely not the best way. This method is used far too often, not monitored properly, and evidence suggests that it is not working for a large percentage of PTSD survivors. If medications are to be used, a more in depth study of the individual’s family history, medical history, and other extenuating factors should be considered. What works for one may not work for another. Patients should be more closely monitored and decisions about prescribing medications should be more carefully considered.
OTHER COUNSELING TREATMENTS
Group therapy and family therapy are often helpful methods of treatment, especially if used along with other treatments. Be sure to find a counselor that has experience with PTSD and good references. Don’t put your life in the hands of someone that is not qualified to help you recover.