It’s been said that time can cure even the deepest wounds. For people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), however, time isn’t a great healer. In fact, an article in American Family Physician suggests that up to one-third of people who have PTSD after a traumatic event still have weekly symptoms up to 10 years later. So if time doesn’t heal, what does? Experts think treatment is the key. By getting targeted help on multiple fronts, people might be able to really understand their pain and move forward in a healthier manner.
Talking It Through
Therapy is the cornerstone of the healing process in PTSD, and there are a number of ways in which that treatment can progress. Sometimes, the therapy involves emotional competence, providing people with training that can help them to:
- Soothe distress without reaching for illicit drugs or alcohol
- Process the guilt the event left behind
- Correct erroneous thoughts, such as, “The world is unsafe,” or “I could have done more”
- Talk with the people they love, rather than leaving emotions bottled up inside
Some therapists enhance this treatment by using exposure therapy. Here, people who have experienced trauma are encouraged to slowly walk through the events of the day in the company of a therapist. They think about everything that happened, and everything they did, and they realize that they’re still safe as they talk. Slowly, they process their memories and realize that the event no longer has the power to hurt them.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, healing can take up to 12 weeks in this model, but some people need even longer in order to leave their symptoms behind for good. Some people also need to include their families in therapy, and they might need touchup therapy from time to time.
Some people who have PTSD can recover using only therapy, but there are some people who need medication management. These people might be too distressed to participate in any form of therapy, or they might be so upset and tortured that they can’t sleep or eat or get through the day. Antidepressant medications are sometimes helpful for people like this, as they can correct chemical imbalances inside the brain and bring people a sense of peace that’s eluded them in the past. Medications like this can take time to work, however, and they don’t always work for everyone, so an expert must closely monitor the use of these drugs, and therapy should always be a part of the treatment plan.
Some newer therapies have also been proven helpful in the fight against PTSD. Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), for example, could be helpful for some people with PTSD. Here, clients recount the events that triggered the PTSD episode while focusing on the therapist’s hand movements. The eye movements that result from a close focus like this are similar to those experienced by people in the depths of sleep, but according to the National Center for PTSD, they might not be part of the healing part of this therapy, as they’re not really necessary for healing. The focus might, instead, allow people to talk about the day without really focusing on their fear, and this might allow them to process their memories and separate the images in their memories from feelings of anxiety and pain.
Help at The Oaks at La Paloma
The treatment specialists at The Oaks at La Paloma can help you to understand how your PTSD symptoms came about, and through therapy, we can help you to deal with your memories and your hidden pain. We’ll provide you with a safe space for healing and really help you to move forward. If you’d like to find out more, please call.