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How is PTSD Treated?

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder is a response to trauma that includes physical and psychological symptoms. People who have experienced traumatic events can be at risk of a traumatic stress response at any time following the trauma. You may be diagnosed with PTSD following a structured interview, a questionnaire, or a combination of the two. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) describes the main types of treatment for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, which include therapy and medication.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

The Veterans Administration (VA) reports that research shows that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is the most effective type of counseling for people with PTSD. Veterans with PTSD receive either Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) or Prolonged Exposure (PE) therapy through the VA. Prolonged Exposure therapy provides a safe environment in which people can face and control their fears that contribute to traumatic stress responses. Cognitive Processing Therapy helps people to understand and change how they think about their traumatic experiences and aftermath. These types of behavioral therapy are also used for PTSD experienced by non-Veterans. Posttraumatic stress can arise from any serious traumatic experience, not just military combat.

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Other Types of Therapy

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) combines visual movement with therapy that assists the patient in recalling trauma-related memories. Stress Inoculation Training (SIT) is another type of therapy that asks people to learn coping skills to deal with the stress experienced by traumatic responses, symptoms and fragmented memories of traumatic events. SIT can include breathing techniques, muscle relaxation, and assertiveness skills. Present Centered Therapy (PCT) does not focus on the trauma that someone with the condition has experienced. Instead, PCT focuses on current life issues, and helps to teach problem-solving strategies that will help in general life/coping situations.

Medications Used for PTSD

SSRIs or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, and SNRIs, serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, are the two most common types of antidepressant medication, according to the Veterans Administration. Zoloft, Paxil, Prozac and Effexor are among the brand names most-commonly prescribed. These medications also have generic names: Prozac's generic name is Paroxetine.

Researchers believe that PTSD is a result of changes in the brain that are linked to an individual's ability to respond to and manage stress. People with the condition have different amounts of neurotransmitters in their brain that people who do not have the stress-related symptoms. Medications can help put brain chemicals into balance, while therapeutic treatment can help with coping skills. Therapy helps people with traumatic stress form positive, healthy connections with others, and understand what has happened to them to build a solid recovery.