Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric condition caused by trauma and treated by cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR), group and individual therapy.
You may go on to suffer from PTSD if you experience or are witness to a life-threatening event or a particularly traumatic occurrence. Post-traumatic stress disorder is a condition which can affect both men and women, regardless of their age.
Traumatic situations most associated with PTSD are:
Events whilst serving in armed forces
Childhood physical abuse
Being threatened or assaulted
Being stalked, harassed or bullied
Suffering a bereavement
Witnessing road accidents
Other factors that can cause PTSD include natural disasters, terrorist attacks, serious accidents, or even being diagnosed with a serious illness.
To assess whether you are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder , you may be required to undergo structured interviews and psychological assessments. The symptoms of PTSD must also last for at least a month.
You may be prescribed medication to reduce the anxiety, depression and insomnia often experienced with PTSD. In some cases, medication may help to relieve the distress and emotional numbness caused by traumatic memories, and also helps you to participate in psychotherapy sessions. A range of antidepressant drugs are also used in treating the condition.
Once an individual is diagnosed with PTSD, there are a range of treatments available. Priory specialists will talk through the options available and recommend the most suitable treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder based on your personal circumstances. PTSD treatment options include:
Trauma-focused CBT CBT helps you to understand your thought processes and how to change your feelings and reactions to your symptoms. One form of CBT is known as exposure therapy, which is unique to treating trauma. This involves you imagining the trauma in a safe, controlled environment to help you to face up to your fears. This enables our specialists to examine your reactions to the event and help you to overcome your anger, shame or guilt. This will enable you to deal with traumatic memories and feelings without becoming overwhelmed or emotionally numb. Read more on cognitive behavioural therapy.
EMDR for PTSD EMDR combines elements of exposure therapy and CBT with eye-movement techniques. While concentrating on your traumatic experience, special rapid eye movements will help you through the healing process and improve your confidence. Read more information on eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR)
Group treatment for PTSD By discussing your emotions and trauma with a group of other PTSD sufferers, you will achieve greater understanding of your condition and emotions. Group PTSD treatment will help you to become more confident and trusting, and enable you to focus on the present rather than the past. Brief psychodynamic psychotherapy This focuses on the emotional conflicts caused by the traumatic event, particularly experiences when you were young. By working with a calm and unbiased therapist, you will achieve a greater sense of self-esteem and develop effective methods of thinking and coping with intense emotions.