Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) falls under the heading of anxiety. The term entered the mainstream because many service members return from active duty with the condition. However, you don’t have to have served in the military to have PTSD or benefit from PTSD therapy. Here’s what you need to know about therapy for the disorder.
Who Develops PTSD?
Anyone can develop this form of anxiety disorder. Maybe you witnessed a terrifying event. It doesn’t matter if you were directly a part of the action, or merely witnessed it. Examples might include acts of terrorism or war, natural disasters, physical abuse, or crime.
Exposure to these situations can lead to trauma. Your mind may not know how to process the information. You start having flashbacks. Certain conditions trigger unhealthy emotional responses.
Intrusive thoughts make the waking hours challenging to deal with. Rather than undergo PTSD therapy, some people self-medicate with drugs or alcohol to get rid of these thoughts. You think you have it under control, but you don’t. You self-esteem suffers because you don’t feel like you fit in anywhere.
PTSD Therapy Can Change Your Life
You don’t have to live with the disabling thoughts and feelings any longer. There are therapeutic approaches, which can help you to deal with your thoughts in a healthy way. They also assist with rebuilding your self-esteem. Examples of possible therapies include:
- Medication therapy management that utilizes prescriptions like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
- Cognitive behavioral therapy for negative pattern identification
- Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR therapy) for overcoming the actual trauma
- Prolonged exposure therapy that guides you through facing your trauma
- Holistic therapies as means for learning relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises and mindfulness training
Everyone’s symptoms are different. For this reason, your PTSD therapy will undergo customization. The goal is to make each modality relevant to your particular situation. Doing so ensures that you receive maximum benefit from the therapies.
Understanding How the Modalities Work Together
Cognitive behavioral therapy is a staple of PTSD therapy. It enables you, with the help of a therapist, to pinpoint areas of dysfunction. For example, you may blame yourself for the events that took place before, during, or after your traumatic experience. By examining them with assistance, you may notice areas where you’re taking the blame for things beyond your control.
This process lets you move on. While it won’t eradicate the traumatic event, it’ll put some facets in perspective. Doing so may relieve some stress and guilt. It’ll also help you to focus on areas where you need help with coping skills.
Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing lets you tackle the way you deal with the stress. You use stimuli to assign positive thoughts to them. Then, when you’re dealing with the trauma, you can switch a negative mindset to a positive one. It won’t happen overnight, but if you stick with the therapy, you’ll get there.
Prolonged exposure therapy helps you to overcome avoidance. It goes hand in hand with meditation and mindfulness training. You learn to face the traumatic experience while controlling your response to it. Doing so frequently can help lessen the physical and emotional impact.
It’s important to realize that no single modality will make the traumatic event go away. Instead, you learn how to live with it better. You take away its power to harm you and make you do things you don’t want to. However, you can’t do it without help.
Don’t Avoid PTSD Therapy
Some people hope that if they don’t acknowledge it, it’ll go away. However, a traumatic experience continues to lurk in the back of your mind. It won’t go away. You can’t forget it on command.
It may be affecting your life in ways that you don’t even see. Maybe you’re dealing with an addiction of some type. You might have a severe anxiety disorder.
But you don’t have to continue going down that route. There’s real help available from therapists who care about your mental health. At PACE Mental Health Houston, our mental health team routinely works with people who are just like you. Reach out for help today by calling 866.971.8423 now.