So, you've been diagnosed with PTSD --
posttraumatic stress disorder.
You might be thinking, 'Does therapy for PTSD really work?'
Or, 'What about medications?'
Well, there are treatments that work, and you have choices.
We're going to show you PTSD treatments that are
evidence-based, which means they've been proven to work
in multiple scientific studies.
Two of the most effective PTSD treatments are Cognitive
Processing Therapy and Prolonged Exposure.
Both are cognitive behavioral therapies, CBT for short.
CBT is far from just talking; you'll learn skills
to manage your PTSD symptoms.
Cognitive Processing Therapy teaches you how to change
negative thoughts about your trauma,
which can have a big impact on how you feel.
Prolonged Exposure helps you confront memories
and situations you've been avoiding since your trauma.
This gets easier with time, and eventually you won't
need to avoid them.
Another effective therapy is EMDR,
which involves thinking about images and feelings that
distress you while doing rapid eye movements.
This can help you change how you react to trauma memories.
Therapies like these usually take 3 to 4 months of weekly
visits - and improvement can last for years.
Medications are another effective option.
The best medications for treating PTSD symptoms are
antidepressants, specifically SSRIs and SNRIs.
Antidepressants work by helping brain cells communicate
better, and that can make you feel better.
Improvements in your PTSD symptoms will last for
as long as you keep taking them.
You might have heard about benzodiazepines, or benzos.
In the past, doctors prescribed these anti-anxiety
medications for PTSD.
New research shows anti-anxiety medications may interfere with
therapy and do not improve PTSD.
These medications can also lead to harmful side effects,
like confusion, fogginess, and accidents or falls.
If you're taking benzodiazepines or other medications with
potentially harmful side effects -- like atypical antipsychotics
-- talk to your doctor about whether you should
safely stop them.
There are more effective options for PTSD.
It's common to have other problems at the same time you
have PTSD, like chronic pain, depression, substance abuse,
a history of traumatic brain injury, or insomnia.
Often, treatments effective for PTSD can help
with these problems too.
In other cases, your doctor might suggest
an additional treatment.
For example, there's a special type of cognitive behavioral
therapy called CBT-I -- the "I" is for insomnia.
CBT-I teaches you skills that can improve your sleep,
even after just a few therapy appointments.
Some antidepressants can help with sleep too,
and there is a medication called prazosin
specifically for nightmares.
So, where do you start?
Talk to your provider about which effective treatment
options are right for you -- therapy, medications,
or maybe both.
And remember, it's always important to talk to your
doctor before stopping or switching medications.
For more information, visit the National Center for PTSD
website at www.ptsd.va.gov.
To find a mental health provider,
click the "Get Help for PTSD" button.
Or, see success stories at AboutFace.