If you believe that you or a loved one may be suffering from PTSD, you’re not alone. According to a federal study on PTSD, about 6% of the population experiences PTSD at any given time. (That number is higher in women, at 8%, and in veterans, at up to 25% or more.) Trauma is sadly a fact of modern life, and PTSD is the result. The good news is, however, that we’ve never known more about how to treat PTSD, allowing sufferers to recover and live normal lives once more. Here's what you need to know, and how to find help.
Signs of PTSD
PTSD requires a medical diagnosis since its symptoms can often resemble other mood disorders. However, there are some classic signs to look out for.
At the core of PTSD is recurring nightmares, flashbacks, or unwanted memories of past trauma. From there, a constellation of resulting symptoms occur in behavior and mental state.
Severe anxiety, fear, and depression are common in those suffering from PTSD. This can cause isolation, an abandonment of hobbies, self-sabotaging behavior, irritability, hyper-vigilance, and even aggression.
PTSD & Substance Abuse
Sadly, it also is very common that people suffering with PTSD attempt to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol. In a desperate attempt to numb the pain, they often can end up compounding their symptoms of depression or irritability, and a full-blown depression may be the result. PTSD and addiction often go hand in hand.
The American Psychological Association studied people seeking treatment for PTSD and found that as a whole, they were fourteen times more likely to have a substance use disorder than members of the general population. The study also found that treating these individuals’ substance abuse — even without attempting to treat the trauma — resulted in a decrease of PTSD symptoms.
How to Treat PTSD
Today, there are a variety of effective treatments for those suffering from PTSD. Treatment starts with having an honest conversation with your healthcare provider. Based on your experience and symptoms, they will be able to provide an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. Most commonly, treatment involves a combination of medication and therapy to address underlying trauma.
Medications for PTSD are prescribed to help your body better respond to stress, anxiety, and negative emotions. You may be prescribed an SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) like Prozac, or an SNRI like Effexor depending on your personal biology and symptoms. Each type of drug will work to balance the chemical composition in your brain.
However, the most important part of PTSD treatment is addressing and healing the trauma itself. Today, there are many paths to healing trauma.
One of the most powerful and innovative therapies in recent years is EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing). In an EMDR session, the patient thinks about and discusses the traumatic event while focusing on visual cues and movements like flashing lights or the therapist’s hands.
You also may try traditional talk therapy or cognitive processing therapy, which helps you identify and change your harmful beliefs about the trauma you experienced.
No matter which type of treatment your provider chooses, a reputable provider will proceed at a pace that feels safe and manageable to you.
Residential PTSD Treatment Programs
One of the most effective ways to treat PTSD — especially if you also struggle with substance abuse — is residential treatment. Residential treatment provides the kind of 24/7 support and peaceful sanctuary you need to walk through the challenge of healing PTSD. In particular, veterans can benefit from specialized treatment by professionals who have years of experience treating their unique needs.
Acqua Recovery is proud to be in network with TRICARE, TRIWEST, Humana Military, and TriCare East, making residential PTSD treatment affordable for veterans and military families. Acqua also is in network with most civilian insurances, including the following: Blue Cross Blue Shield, embs, Cigna, First Health, Beacon Health Options, Value Options, PHCS, MHNet, EMI Health, Wise Provider Networks, Imagine Health, Health Utah Provider Network, University of Utah Health Plans, MultiPlan, Magellan Healthcare, MotivHealth, and more. Verify your insurance to see if you’re covered, or call our caring team for a no-pressure talk about how you or your loved one can find peace and recovery from PTSD.