Treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder aims to reduce the intensity and frequency of emotional and physical symptoms that are associated with it. It also aims to improve a person’s ability to function on a daily basis and to better cope with memories of the traumatic event. Treatment for PTSD includes:

  • Medication: Many mental health care professionals use anti-depressants to control feelings of anxiety and other associated symptoms. These include selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Prozac and Zoloft and tri-cyclic anti-depressants such as Doxepin. Sometimes tranquilizers such as Ativan, mood stabilizers such as Depakote and neuroleptics such as Seroquel are also used.
  • Psychotherapy: This form of therapy helps a person to manage symptoms better and develop coping skills. Other goals of therapy include teaching a person and his or her family about the disorder and helping the sufferer identify and work through fears associated with the event. There are many different approaches to psychotherapy.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) teaches a person to recognize and change thought patterns that lead to troubling emotions and abnormal behavior.
  • Exposure therapy is a form of CBT that forces a person to re-live the traumatic experience or by exposing the person to situations that cause anxiety. This is done in a carefully controlled and safe environment under the supervision of trained professionals. It helps a person confront his or her fears and makes them more comfortable in dealing with anxiety causing or frightening situations. This form of therapy has been employed with great success in treating PTSD.
  • Psychodynamic therapy helps the affected person focus on his or her values and any emotional conflicts arising out of the traumatic event.
  • Family therapy helps close family members to cope with the behavior of the affected person.
  • Group therapy can help a person identify and share his or her thoughts and feelings with other people who have also experienced traumatic events.

Frequently asked questions
  1. Chris Freeman, Psychological and drug therapies for post-traumatic stress disorder, Psychiatry, Volume 5, Issue 7, July 2006, Pages 231-237, ISSN 1476-1793, 10.1053/j.mppsy.2006.06.001.
  2. R. Yehuda, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: Overview, In: Editor-in-Chief:  Larry R. Squire, Editor(s)-in-Chief, Encyclopedia of Neuroscience, Academic Press, Oxford, 2009, Pages 853-858, ISBN 9780080450469, 10.1016/B978-008045046-9.00095-4.
  3. Rianne Stam, PTSD and stress sensitisation: A tale of brain and body: Part 1: Human studies, Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, Volume 31, Issue 4, 2007, Pages 530-557, ISSN 0149-7634, 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2006.11.010.