Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – How Is PTSD Treated?

Treatments For Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Effective treatments for those suffering with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms is vital. To be a prisoner of your own mind and traumatic experiences is not where anybody wants to be, day in and day out.

This is a disorder where many find the use of anxiety and depression medications the only treatment available to them where they can escape and find peace…even if only temporarily.

The unfortunate fact is that these medications will do nothing to resolve the core symptoms of PTSD.

The same is true with any other anti-depression medications such as those ‘atypical’ anti-psychotics and benzodiazepines.

On the other hand, studies have shown that psychotherapy works best for people with PTSD. There are many types of therapy such as explained in the following types of psychotherapy:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT is a therapy that helps many people with an anxiety disorder and has been known to help those people suffering with PTSD. The following are two types of CBT:

  • Cognitive Processing Therapy

It is through Cognitive Processing Therapy that a person will be able to learn to focus on their own thoughts about the traumatic incident that they experienced. During the therapy session, the patient will be asked to step back and try to look at their thoughts and see how these are affecting them at present. Another part of the therapy will teach the person some skills that will make it easier for them to challenge their own thoughts.

Furthermore, they will also be asked to evaluate the beliefs that they had before the traumatic event took place and the beliefs that they have now after the incident. Their beliefs about self-esteem, trust, safety and relationships will be discussed in this therapy until they achieve balance between their past beliefs and present beliefs.

  • Prolonged Exposure Therapy

This type of therapy may last from ten to twenty weeks depending on the patient’s response.  Breathing retraining, education about the different reactions to trauma and prolonged exposure to memories that also served as causes for the trauma are some of the procedures that a person will undergo with this type of therapy.  This therapy also includes in vivo exposure to several things, places or situations that the patient is avoiding after the traumatic experience.

Psychodynamic Therapy

Psychodynamic therapy is another type of psychotherapy that focuses more on the individual’s unconscious mind.   With the help of a psychodynamic therapist, the individual will be asked to recognize his own defense mechanisms and in what situations these are being used. By gaining such awareness, the individual may find himself no longer avoiding several real life situations.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

Just like any other forms of psychotherapy, EMDR is aimed at helping individuals make their traumatic memories less crippling. In this kind of treatment, the therapist will be moving his hands back and forth in front of the patient. The patient will then be asked to follow the hand signals made by the therapist. At the same time, the patient will be asked to recall the traumatic incident as well as the emotions and the physical sensations related to that event.

Once a person decides to undergo treatment for post traumatic stress disorder it is important they feel comfortable with the therapist that is helping them. If they don’t…find someone else! They cannot be helped by someone they don’t like or cannot feel comfortable with. They need to be able to communicate with their therapist totally.

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About Jennifer Johnson

I suffered with social anxiety and stress for years. I discovered what my triggers were and learned to control them. Hopefully some of the natural anxiety relief techniques I have tried, will also be your solution.


  1. I am studying psychology and have been reading up on treating PTSD and phobias. What you had written in this post is what I have learned. However I do question if exposure therapy really works or if it can worsen the condition. What are your thoughts?

    • Hi Shelly,

      That is a great question, as I have heard some people think it is not good. Personally, I have a friend that is having that sort of treatment right now…and it is having a very positive effect on her.

      So right now I would have to say exposure therapy is a treatment that may work for some people and give positive results!

  2. Interesting about exposure therapy. I also think it works in some cases and in others, not at all. For instance I can completely see how exposure therapy would be helpful for someone say is afraid of elevators. In fact I know of someone who benefited from exposure therapy for that. However, in some cases, like if the phobia involved something that was naturally repulsive in the first place, that would actually worsen it. My thoughts.

    • That is my thought too, which is why I said in the last comment that it may work for some people.

      I certainly can’t imagine it helping returned soldiers or assaulted victims…but I have heard of people having it work for instances like you have mentioned.

      That is one of the problems faced when treating anxiety…no two people are the same and no two people respond to the same treatments.

  3. I agree that exposure therapy can work when it comes to phobias related to elevators or heights. However, if say for instance you have the fear of the dead, nope. In a case like that, it is important to focus on nice things and things that make you happy. Not anxious.

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