Can PTSD Be Treated With Rehab?
Posttraumatic stress disorder, sometimes known simply as PTSD, is a mental disorder resulting from some sort of traumatic or shocking event that alters the way the brain processes information. It is common among military personnel returning from active combat duty. However, PTSD can be the result of other traumatic events such as car crashes, natural disasters, or witnessing an unusually violent death.
The NHS says that about 30% of those experiencing a traumatic event will develop symptoms of PTSD. However, it is not clear why some people are not affected while others are. In either case, symptoms can develop immediately or in the weeks and months following the trauma. There is no formula that seems to fit every single patient.
A person suffering from PTSD will relive the event in question through dreams, flashbacks, and very disturbing memories. It is not uncommon for sufferers to also experience insomnia and increased feelings of irritability and anxiety. Overwhelming feelings of guilt and isolation might also be present.
Treatment for PTSD can be either psychotherapeutic or medical. Sometimes the combination of both is required. However, it is routine practice for therapists to begin with psychotherapeutic treatments to see if they will work on their own. If not, medications might be added to help restore chemical balance in the brain. Treatment can be accessed through private clinics, professional counsellors, community-based support groups and the NHS.
Although there is still much about PTSD doctors do not understand, it is believed that the disorder is the result of the brain not being able to properly process information as a result of the shock presented by the traumatic event in question. Psychotherapeutic treatments are designed to retrain the brain in order to restore healthy thought patterns. There are two primary psychotherapeutic treatments being used currently:
- cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
- eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR).
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
If you have looked around our website a bit, you have probably noticed we mention cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) a lot. That’s because it has been shown to be a very effective psychotherapeutic treatment for a number of issues. It is a goal-oriented therapy designed to bring the patient to terms with his or her circumstances and retrain the way they think.
CBT begins with a therapist and patient working together to establish a set of goals. These goals will seek to identify the traumatic event responsible for causing the disorder, identify why the event is so bothersome to the individual, and eventually teach the patient how to effectively work through thoughts and emotions. It is a treatment that can be effectively completed in as little as 12 sessions.
The power of CBT in PTSD rehab is the principle of setting and reaching goals. Goals give meaning and purpose to therapy in a way that offers the patient a means to achieve and enjoy success. With each goal that is conquered, the individual is motivated to conquer the next one.
Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing
EMDR is a relatively new treatment that is not fully understood. In other words, doctors do not know why it works, but it works nonetheless. It is a treatment that involves having the patient recount traumatic events while encouraging rapid, side-to-side movement of the eyes. For example, a therapist might ask the patient to follow his or her moving finger while they recount the traumatic events that are causing their condition.
The NHS says the treatment might work by forcing the malfunctioning part of the brain to deal with traumatic memories while other parts of the brain are focused on following the movements of the eyes. Essentially, the therapy tricks the brain into processing information it has thus far rejected. In so doing, the newly processed memories no longer have such a dramatic effect on the patient.
When psychotherapeutic treatment is not successful on its own, doctors have a number of different medications at their disposal. The medications are typically antidepressants like amitriptyline and paroxetine, chosen because they are unlikely to become addicting. That said, doctors prefer patients continue to receive psychotherapeutic treatments while taking medication.
If medical treatment is used exclusive of psychotherapeutic treatment, prescriptions can be issued for up to 12 months. At that point, doctors usually try to gradually wean patients until they are completely off the medications. Bear in mind that this gradual reduction usually results in some mild withdrawal symptoms. Patients should never discontinue medication without first consulting their doctors.
You Can Be Helped
Are you struggling with painful and disturbing memories after having experienced a traumatic event? If so, you can be helped with appropriate therapies. The following are some of the signs and symptoms you need to look for if you believe you are suffering from PTSD:
- nightmares and flashbacks of the traumatic event
- emotional numbness and avoidance of memories
- continual feelings of being on edge
- anxiety, depression and unreasonable fears
- a tendency to use alcohol or drugs to avoid memories
- headaches, chest pains, and stomach discomfort.
We encourage you to seek help if you believe you are suffering from PTSD. Make an appointment to see your GP or give our helpline a call. Only after receiving a proper assessment can you make an informed decision about whether you need treatment or not. As a side note, if your symptoms of PTSD are accompanied by drug or alcohol abuse issues, it is more important than ever for you to get help.
When PTSD is combined with drugs and alcohol, it can lead to a dual diagnosis scenario capable of devastating your life and the lives of everyone around you. We know that’s not something you want to see happen. For the sake of yourself and your loved ones, make that call to our helpline right away.
We are an independent counselling and referral organisation specialising in helping those in need of rehab access the services that are available to them. We work with the finest clinics throughout the UK offering PTSD rehab and other services. We also have access to community-based organisations and services offered by professional counsellors and the NHS.
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