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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder - Treatment

There are many types of treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). You and your doctor will discuss the best treatment for you. You may have to try a number of treatments before you find one that works for you.

A type of counseling called cognitive-behavioral therapy and medicines known as SSRIs appear to be the most effective treatments for PTSD.2 Treatment can help you feel more in control of your emotions and result in fewer symptoms, but you may still have some bad memories.

Counseling means talking with a therapist on your own or in a group about the traumatic event and PTSD. You will talk with your therapist about your memories and feelings. This will help you change how you think about your trauma. You will learn how to deal with painful feelings and memories, so you can feel better.

Counseling

There are different types of counseling for PTSD. Several types of therapy have been shown to be effective in treating PTSD. These therapies are:

  • Cognitive therapy, in which you learn to change thoughts about the trauma that are not true or that cause you stress.
  • Exposure therapy, in which you talk about the traumatic event over and over, in a safe place, until you have less fear.
  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), in which you focus on distractions like hand movements and sounds while talking about the traumatic event.

Finding a therapist you trust is important. A good therapist will listen to your concerns and help you make changes in your life. Your doctor can help you find one. If you are a veteran, the VA is a good place to start. Churches sometimes offer services that help people get counseling. Or you can call your state Health and Welfare office.

SSRI medicine

SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) are a type of antidepressant medicine. These can help you feel less sad and worried. They appear to be helpful, and for some people they are very effective. SSRIs include fluoxetine (such as Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil), and sertraline (Zoloft).

ptsd_marvin.jpg

One Man's Story:

"It's hard to let people in on your private thoughts. A professional is a great listener, and if you can let them in, when you talk about your flashbacks, they understand that they're not some random thoughts."—Marvin, 58

Read more about Marvin.

Other types of treatment

Your doctor also may suggest you try other types of medicines and other forms of counseling.

If you are using medicine, take it exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor if it's not helping your symptoms or if the side effects are very bad. You and your doctor will decide what to do.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: January 09, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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