Post-traumatic Stress Disorder typically involves patients having to struggle and cope with flashbacks, nightmares, and unwanted memories from a traumatic experience. Thankfully, there are different kinds of therapies available that can help patients diagnosed with PTSD recover. Here are some of the usual symptoms that therapy aims to lessen or diminish entirely:
- Guilt and blame
- Unhealthy coping mechanisms such as drugs, alcohol, unprotected sex, reckless behavior, and other damaging practices
- Anger or irritability
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, also known as CBT, is arguably the most popular therapy chosen by PTSD patients. It involves a therapist helping the patient to recognize and understand what their triggers are, how one views their traumatic event, and their emotions regarding the entire situation. After all of the facts are identified, treatment then focuses on altering behavioral patterns and feelings surrounding their traumatic event.
For example, if a patient is having particular issues with guilt and blame, the therapist will make an effort to alter the patient’s views towards their experience so that they won’t feel so negative about it. In a way, it helps the patient to move on. A lot of the time, the feelings and thoughts about the event are unwarranted, unrealistic, or occur way after the fact. CBT recognizes this and helps the patient to replace these feelings and thoughts with more realistic and constructive ones. It can also help to provide patients with coping mechanisms to deal with different emotions that can come with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Exposure therapy focuses on the aftermath of the traumatic event with an emphasis on the thoughts, emotions, and incidents that can cause a patient to have flashbacks to the event. In exposure therapy, a therapist works to help the patient talk about the event that led to their PTSD. By repeatedly having the patient think and talk about their traumatic event, it can gradually cause them to no longer feel guilt or fear that’s been controlling their lives. Of course, it can take a lot of time and hours in therapy to become what’s known as “desensitized”. The goal is to eventually be able to think about and discuss their memories without becoming overwhelmed with fear.
However, in case fear or guilt become present without the presence of a mental health care professional, patients are typically given a variety of different coping mechanism to help them calm down.
Just like other mental illnesses, interacting and meeting with other individuals with similar experiences can really help patients to cope. Post-traumatic stress disorder group therapy can dramatically improve a patient’s recovery. It’s always helpful to meet others who can understand what’s happening to you, especially when it involves such traumatic circumstances. Group therapy involves a circle of PTSD survivors sharing their stories and experiences with one another. It can help individuals learn to talk about their traumatic event and the emotions tied to it.
These groups can also help patients create strong relationships with each other, using their trauma as a bond rather than a setback. Going to these group therapies is recommended, as it’s an incredible support system.
Something that a lot of individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder don’t realize is that their disorder can have a tremendous amount of strain on their personal relationships, especially within a family. It’s not uncommon for patients with PTSD to unintentionally take out their negative emotions on their loved ones. In family therapy, the patient goes to see a mental health care professional to discuss not only the patient’s condition but to discuss the family’s feelings as well. It can be extremely beneficial, as it can strengthen the patient’s relationships while also treating the PTSD itself. Family therapy can also aid in preparing the family for what to expect with their family member’s disorder and how to help them.