PTSD is a very treatable condition and appropriate treatment at the right time has shown great success and complete recovery in most people. The treatment plan involves psychotherapy and medication. Psychotherapy is usually recommended first. But if symptoms are severe, both forms of treatment are used. After an initial assessment of the severity of symptoms, which is done to ensure that the treatment is tailor-made for the person’s needs, a PTSD patient is referred to a psychologist or psychiatrist.
The following are a few methods employed in the treatment:
1) Watchful waiting:
This is used if the person has mild symptoms or has had symptoms for less than 4 weeks. It involves, careful monitoring of symptoms over a period of a few weeks to see if they get better or worse. The reason this is used is that several people with mild symptoms have gotten better without treatment within a few weeks.
The trained mental health professional listens to all that the person has to say and helps come up with strategies to solve the problem.
2 types of psychotherapy used are:
· Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) –
The person is helped to change the way they think and act to better cope with the traumatic event. Each session is usually 90 minutes long lasting for 8-12 months.
· Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) –
It involves making side-to-side movements of the eyeball usually by following the movement of the therapist’s finger, while recalling the traumatic incident. It is said to help the hippocampus better process flashbacks and memories regarding the event.
Antidepressants such as paroxetine, mirtazapine, amitriptyline or phenelzine are occasionally used to treat adults with PTSD.
However, these medications will only be used if:
One chooses not to have trauma-focused psychological treatment
Psychological treatment would not be effective because there is an ongoing threat of further trauma (such as domestic violence)
Little or no benefit from a course of trauma-focused psychological treatment
Underlying medical condition, such as severe depression, that significantly affects your ability to benefit from psychological treatment.
If medication for PTSD is effective, it will usually be continued for a minimum of 12 months before being gradually withdrawn over the course of four weeks or longer.
Treatment with medication is not recommended for children and young adults. They mainstay of treatment for these age groups is trauma-focused CBT.