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PTSD Treatment: Know Your Options

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.