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An Overview of Treatments for PTSD


Updated November 21, 2012

An Overview of Treatments for PTSD
(c) 2008 iStockphoto.com/Brad Killer

There is a great need for treatments for PTSD as a diagnosis of PTSD can have a major impact on a person's life. PTSD can negatively affect your mood, work, school, and relationships with family and friends. Fortunately, a number of different treatments for PTSD have been found to be effective in helping a person recover from the diagnosis.

Psychological Treatments

Psychological treatments for PTSD are also generally referred to as "psychotherapy" or "talk therapy". These treatments can be broadly classified as being either cognitive-behavioral or psychodynamic in their approach to treating PTSD.

Cognitive-behavioral treatments for PTSD are those that are based on the idea that psychological problems arise as a result of the way in which we interpret or evaluate situations, thoughts, and feelings, as well as our behaviors. Overviews of these types of PTSD treatments are described below:

An Overview of Cognitive Behavior Therapy
Common Cognitive-Behavioral Treatments for PTSD

Specific cognitive-behavioral treatments that have been found to help people better manage their PTSD symptoms are:

Behavioral Activation
Exposure Therapy
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

Psychodynamic treatments for PTSD focus on a number of different factors that may influence or cause PTSD symptoms, such as early childhood experiences (particularly our level of attachment to our parents), current relationships and the things people do (often without being aware of it) to protect themselves from upsetting thoughts and feelings that are the result of experiencing a traumatic event (our "defense mechanisms").

Psychodynamic Psychotherapy for PTSD

Treatments for PTSD and Related Conditions

PTSD rarely occurs alone. PTSD has been found to be co-occur with a number of other mental health disorders, including depression, substance use disorders, anxiety disorders, dissociative disorders, eating disorders, and borderline personality disorder. Therefore, in treating PTSD, mental health professionals often take into account not only the symptoms of PTSD that a person might be experiencing, but other difficulties as well.

Does Having Borderline Personality Disorder Influence Treatment for PTSD?
Which Do You Treat First - PTSD or Substance Use?

In addition, specialized treatments for people with PTSD and other disorders have also been developed. For example, Seeking Safety was designed for people who are struggling with both PTSD and a substance use disorder.

Medications for PTSD

Finally, medication has also been found to help people better manage their PTSD symptoms.

Medications Commonly Used to Treat PTSD Symptoms
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors

You can also learn more about medications through About.com's Drugs A-Z tool.

On their own, medications and psychotherapy may be effective; however, by pairing them together, their effectiveness may be boosted.

Finding Help For Your PTSD

As you can see, there are a number of treatment options for someone with PTSD. You can find out more information about treatment providers in your area who might offer some of these treatments through UCompare HealthCare from About.com, as well as the Anxiety Disorder Association of America. You can also learn more about cognitive behavioral treatments for PTSD that have support in reducing the symptoms of PTSD (such as Prolonged Exposure, Cognitive Processing Therapy, and Seeking Safety) at the American Psychological Association.

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