Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that is triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares, and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event.
According to the National Center for PTSD, a program of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, about seven or eight of every 100 people will experience PTSD in their lifetime. Women are more likely than men to develop PTSD. Certain aspects of the traumatic event and some biological factors (such as genes) may make some people more likely to develop PTSD.
Even though PTSD treatments work, many people who have PTSD do not get the help they need. June is PTSD Awareness Month. The goal of PTSD Awareness Month is to spread the word that effective PTSD treatments are available.
The main treatments for people with PTSD are medications, psychotherapy (“talk” therapy), or both. Since PTSD affects people differently, a treatment that works for one person may not work for another. It is important for anyone with PTSD to be treated by a mental health provider who is experienced with PTSD. Some people with PTSD may need to try different treatments to find what works for their symptoms.
Trauma-focused Psychotherapies are the most highly recommended type of treatment for PTSD. “Trauma-focused” means that the treatment focuses on the memory of the traumatic event or its meaning. These treatments use different techniques to help you process your traumatic experience. Some involve visualizing, talking, or thinking about the traumatic memory. Others focus on changing unhelpful beliefs about the trauma. The trauma-focused psychotherapies with the strongest evidence are:
- Prolonged Exposure (PE)
- Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT)
- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
There are other types of trauma-focused psychotherapy that are also recommended for people with PTSD. These include:
- Brief Eclectic Psychotherapy (BEP)
- Narrative Exposure Therapy (NET)
- Written Narrative Exposure
- Specific cognitive behavioral therapies (CBTs) for PTSD
Antidepressants (SSRIs and SNRIs)
Medications that have been shown to be helpful in treating PTSD symptoms are some of the same medications also used for symptoms of depression and anxiety. These are antidepressant medications called SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) and SNRIs (serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors). SSRIs and SNRIs affect the level of naturally occurring chemicals in the brain called serotonin and/or norepinephrine. These chemicals play a role in brain cell communication and affect how you feel.
There are four antidepressant medications that are recommended for PTSD:
- Sertraline (Zoloft)
- Paroxetine (Paxil)
- Fluoxetine (Prozac)
- Venlafaxine (Effexor)
Since there are various treatment options available, it is important to discuss treatment options with a health care provider, and determine which ones are best based on the benefits, risks, and side effects of each treatment.
If you or someone you know is suffering from a mental illness or PTSD and you are being denied benefits by your insurance, please contact Kantor & Kantor at 888-569-6013 or use our online contact form. We understand, and we can help.