A PTSD diagnosis can be frightening, but the disorder can be treated. A doctor or mental health professional with experience in treating people with PTSD can help through the use of “talk” therapy, medication or both.
The typical treatment time for PTSD ranges from six to twelve weeks, but it can take longer. PTSD treatment is not the same for everyone, and what works for one person might not work for someone else.
PTSD and Addiction
Many PTSD sufferers feel the urge to self-medicate, but drinking alcohol or using drugs is not a method of treating this disorder. Substance use will not help PTSD go away, and it may even make symptoms worse.
If substance use leads to addiction, individuals will require treatment for both PTSD and the co-occurring addiction. Dual Diagnosis treatment is designed to address both issues at once and has a higher success rate than separate treatments.
Types of PTSD Therapy
Basic counseling practices common for PTSD treatment include education about the condition and provision of safety and support. Psychotherapy has been promoted as treatment for trauma-related problems such as PTSD. The psychotherapy programs with the strongest demonstrated efficacy include the following:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
- Exposure therapy
- Stress inoculation training
- Cognitive therapy
- Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)
- Interpersonal psychotherapy
EMDR or trauma-focused CBT are often recommended as a first course of treatment for trauma, with EMDR proving more successful than CBT in most cases. Other approaches, particularly those involving social supports, may also prove beneficial and ultimately successful. Interpersonal psychotherapy trials have reported high rates of remission, while various other combinations of therapies are being practiced with high success rates.
Medication and PTSD Treatment
Some medications have shown benefit in preventing PTSD when given in close proximity to a traumatic event. While there is no clearly agreed upon drug treatment for PTSD, a variety of medications potentially reduce PTSD symptoms. Medications available for PTSD include the following:
- Alpha-adrenergic agonists may help prevent trauma disorders
- Beta blockers may inhibit the formation of traumatic memories by blocking adrenaline’s effects
- Glucocorticoids administered immediately following a traumatic experience may help prevent PTSD
- Opiates given during early stages of treatment lower the rate of PTSD
- Alpha-adrenergic agonists show substantial benefit in relieving or reducing nightmares
- Anti-convulsants, mood stabilizers and anti-aggression agents reduce arousal symptoms and aggression and reduce flashbacks and nightmares