What are effective treatments for PTSD? That is an important question because PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, can be a crippling mental health issue.
When you experience PTSD, traumatic events haunt you because you have never been fully able to process them. You may struggle with nightmares, anxiety, and fear among other issues.
If you have PTSD, it’s important to know what are therapy choices that constitute effective treatments. Luckily, because PTSD has been studied so much in recent years, we know a lot more about what is helpful for those seeking treatment.
If you are struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder and want a treatment that works, consider these options.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
One option is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). It’s a form of talk therapy that teaches you skills and also focuses on addressing unhelpful and distorted thoughts.
For example, let’s say that you were driving your car at night on a dark road. Suddenly, a deer pops out of nowhere. The result is an accident. Months later you are still thinking about the accident, and what you could have done differently to prevent it from occurring. You feel angry at yourself for totaling the car and for not being able to do anything about it. No matter how much you try, the incident keeps haunting you. And it even affects your willingness to ever drive in the dark again.
Yet, the reality is that there was nothing you could have done. In this situation, you did your best to brake and avoid hitting the deer. But in the end, it happened. CBT helps you to put what you could have or should have done in perspective. It can help you to not feel guilty or angry at yourself for something that was not your fault.
Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) has been proven to be an effective treatment for PTSD. EMDR taps into how your brain stores memories to reorganize them from your short-term memory to your long-term memory.
You see, with trauma, the memory of what happened can remain front-and-center in your consciousness. Even if you are doing something else, the traumatic memory is still there. This happens because your brain hasn’t fully processed what happened to you. In fact, it still thinks you are in danger. EMDR utilizes both cognitive and neurobiological resources to process and resolve those memories.
In EMDR sessions, you are asked to recall a specific image or sensation related to the traumatic memory that you can’t shed. For instance, during the car accident, you smelled the burning rubber from the tires braking. At the same time, your therapist passes their finger or an object back and forth in front of you. You track that movement with your eyes.
This causes your brain to activate certain processes in your brain that allows you to feel less stressed about the memory. At the next session, it’s easier to recall the memory, without feeling anxiety. Over time, this process helps you to resolve the traumatic memory.
Another therapy technique that is an effective treatment for PTSD is exposure therapy. When there is trauma, there can be problems experiencing sights, sounds, or other things associated with the traumatic memory.
Going back to the car accident again, right before the accident there was a song playing on the radio. Now, whenever you hear that song, it triggers that traumatic memory for you. Suddenly you are back in the middle of your car accident.
Exposure therapy helps by allowing you to experience those triggers with the support of a therapist. With their help, you process what you are feeling. The objective is that eventually, with exposing yourself to them over and over, those situations become less triggering for you.
In recent years, one of the most high-tech effective treatments for PTSD has emerged. Neurofeedback for PTSD involves special real-time feedback displayed on a screen to help trauma sufferers learn to calm themselves.
With the help of brain waves showing on a monitor, you learn to relax and regulate your emotional and mental state. As you repeat this training time and again, your cognitive control improves, your overall arousal diminishes, and you become more emotionally stable. The result is that your PTSD symptoms also decrease in severity and frequency.
In effect, neurofeedback therapy retrains your brain to not allow any memories from a traumatic event to make you anxious or fearful anymore. In the case of the car accident illustration, it would mean that you could recall the event without feeling panic. Plus, retraining your brain helps you to go back to functioning normally in everyday life and not fear getting behind the wheel.
Post-traumatic stress disorder, if left untreated, causes a lot of emotional and even physical pain. However, there are several viable therapy choices available which are effective treatments for PTSD.
If you have post-traumatic stress disorder and want to know which PTSD therapy options I offer, please don’t hesitate to contact me for more information.