Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Managing PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a form of mental illness that results from actual or threatened danger. Examples of this can include experiencing natural disasters, physical, sexual or emotional abuse, being involved in war or combat, hostage or kidnapping situations and other criminal acts.

While these experiences are terrifying and impact different survivors in different ways, not everyone will develop PTSD after experiencing trauma. For many, the distress of trauma may fade, but for those struggling with PTSD the effects will only worsen over time.
 

Symptoms of PTSD

Anyone can develop PTSD at any age, and the signs of the disorder usually being within three months of the traumatic event.

Some of the symptoms of PTSD include the following:

  • Re-experiencing the event; having vivid nightmares, flashbacks and memories
  • The need to avoid any and everything similar to the event
  • Isolation from others and avoidance of social interactions altogether
  • Dissociative symptoms like depersonalization, psychic numbing or amnesia
  • Having an increased arousal or hyper-vigilant state that can cause insomnia, anxiety issues, sensitivity to sensory stimuli, emotional liability and difficulty concentrating
  • Physical impairment such as a rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, nausea, dizziness and gastrointestinal problems1

PTSD is a disease that torments patients because they cannot heal from the traumatic experience. Instead the trauma terrorizes them, harming their health, relationships, lifestyle and wellbeing. When PTSD goes untreated, patients may turn to drugs to medicate their symptoms. Using drugs or alcohol to cope with PTSD dramatically increases the risk of developing addiction. Drugs and alcohol combined with PTSD can worsen mental health issues and may prompt self-harm.

 

Treatment for PTSD

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a type of cognitive behavior therapy or talk therapy that was developed to treat borderline personality disorder, but is also used in conjunction with other treatments to heal mental health issues like depression, PTSD and addiction.2

DBT focuses on changing a person’s thoughts and beliefs about himself which motivates the changing of behaviors. The main focus of DBT is to help patients learn skills that will decrease emotion dysregulation, self-destructive behaviors and other unhealthy coping mechanisms.

DBT helps treat the symptoms of PTSD by:

  • Addressing and removing dangerous behavior commonly seen among individuals with PTSD
  • Developing a trusting relationship between therapist and patient(s)
  • Teaching skills that regulate emotions or symptoms of PTSD through mindfulness concepts, interpersonal effectiveness skills and distress-tolerance skills

DBT helps patients analyze their emotional and psychological issues and teaches them to control their behavior. It encourages patients to identify their emotional experiences and manage them through the skills they learn and practice in therapy. DBT teaches mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, distress tolerance and emotional regulation skills with real-life scenarios.

The goal is for patients to transfer these skills from therapy to real life and use them to cope with the symptoms of PTSD, anxiety and other mental and emotional health problems.3

 

DBT for PTSD

La Paloma inpatient buildingWhile PTSD is a devastating and painful, patients now have many options to treat the disorder. If you or a loved one is searching for treatment for PTSD, please call our toll-free helpline now at (877) 345-1887. Our admissions coordinators are available 24 hours a day to answer your questions and help you find the right treatment options for your unique situation.

Whether you have questions or concerns, need information or are ready to find treatment today, we can help. Call us now and begin your recovery journey.


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Sources

1 Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.” National Institute of Mental Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Aug. 2018.

2 Dialectical Behavior Therapy.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, Aug. 2018.

3 Tull, Matthew, and Steven Gans. “How Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) Is Used for PTSD.Verywell Mind, Verywellmind, 24 Apr. 2018.