Understanding PTSD Booklet - NC Operation Recovery

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Understanding PTSD Booklet - NC Operation Recovery

What Treatments Are Effective for PTSD?There are good treatments available for PTSD. Thetwo main types are psychotherapy, sometimes called“counseling,” and medication. Sometimes people combinepsychotherapy and medication.PsychotherapyCognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is the most effectivetreatment for PTSD. CBT usually involves meeting withyour therapist once a week for 3-6 months. There aredifferent types of CBT that are effective for PTSD.Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) is a CBT in whichyou learn skills to better understand how a trauma changedyour thoughts and feelings. It will help you see how youhave gotten “stuck” in your thinking about the trauma. Ithelps you identify trauma-related thoughts and changethem so they are more accurate and less distressing.Prolonged Exposure (PE) therapy is a CBT in which youtalk about your trauma repeatedly until the memories areno longer upsetting. You also go into situations that are safebut which you may have been avoiding because they arerelated to the trauma.Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)involves focusing on distractions like hand movements orsounds while you talk about the traumatic event. Over time, itcan help change how you react to memories of your trauma.MedicationSelective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) canraise the level of serotonin in your brain, which canmake you feel better. The two SSRIs that are currentlyapproved by the FDA for the treatment of PTSD aresertraline (Zoloft) and paroxetine (Paxil).Sometimes, doctors prescribe medicines calledbenzodiazepines for people with PTSD. These medicinesare often given to people who have problems withanxiety. While they may be of some help at first, theydo not treat the core PTSD symptoms. They may leadto addiction and are not recommended for long-termPTSD treatment.Real Stories: GinaGina had a great job, a loving husband, and a beautiful home. Butshe was miserable. Some days, a kiss from her husband wouldmake her heart start pounding, and she would feel very afraid. Shedid not realize that these panicky feelings were flashbacks—therexperiencing of the feelings that she had felt when she was a smallchild and couldn’t protect herself.Gina sought help. She went to a therapist, and finally revealed thather uncle had repeatedly sexually abused her as a child. Her therapistdiagnosed PTSD, and started cognitive behavioral therapy with Gina.Therapy taught her to challenge her thoughts and feel less distress.“You can be a normal thrivingperson and have mentalhealth issues, get help forthose, and still be okay.”She still has occasional flashbacks and panic attacks, but they’re now controllable, and she knows they willpass. Before, she thought she’d always have to live with the flashbacks and bad feelings. Now, she can goweeks without thinking about the abuse, and she feels certain that someday it will be years.www.ptsd.va.gov7

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