Psychotherapy leads to the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder – Harvard Health Blog


Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a common, often paralyzing mental health condition that occurs in some people who have experienced trauma. It can have a devastating effect on mood, similar to depression, and is characterized by the symptoms of depression that people who experience it come back into shock. A new study suggests that psychotherapy can provide lasting reductions in symptoms of depression.

Throughout their lives, many people experience or experience traumatic injuries directly, such as sexual abuse, violence, or natural disaster. Experts estimate that 10% to 20% of these people will experience acute (short-term) PTSD. Some will progress to chronic (long-term) symptoms. Taken together, about 8% of all people will develop PTSD during their lifetime, highlighting the need for effective treatment.

What happens when people have PTSD?

Because PTSD is spread by several types of symptoms, it can be powerless. People are diagnosed with PTSD if they have some symptoms after a traumatic experience that lasts at least a month:

  • one or more signs of relapse (sometimes called & # 39; delays & # 39;)
  • one or more features of avoidance, such as avoiding places or objects that remind you of the original event
  • two or more symptoms of activity and activity, such as jumping, heartbeat, or sweating
  • two or more symptoms that affect the environment or cognition, such as negative thoughts or difficulties recalling important parts of the event.

When a person has PTSD, the brain may experience a state of constant tension. Nightmares are normal. People who struggle with PTSD often begin to avoid an environment that can trigger them. This can further destabilize the social fabric of the community, making it difficult to do work and foster relationships. Taken together, PTSD can lead to significant disability and psychological stress in individuals and the community at large.

How is PTSD treated?

Experts have long disagreed on the proper treatment methods. Current levels of medical care may include

  • Medications, such as anti-serotonin reuptake inhibitors & # 39; (SSRIs), and alpha-1 & # 39; as & # 39; prazosin & # 39; (Minipress)
  • certain modes of psychotherapy, such as long-term exposure therapy and ophthalmology (EMDR).

However, recommendations made by a panel of different experts differ greatly in the way in which to try this treatment. For example, the American Psychological Association and the International Association for Anxiety Disorders Research recommend antiseptics & # 39; SSRIs & # 39; as much as possible therapeutic treatment. Most of the other guidelines, including those from the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence and the Health and Medical Research Council, recommend the use of SSRIs only if initial attempts at psychotherapy are successful.

What does the new research tell us?

New rigorous research supports the use of psychology first, followed by medication if it fails to provide adequate treatment, or psychotherapy combined with the onset of treatment. This meta-analysis, published online JAMA Psychiatry, mixed data from 12 randomized clinical trials and 922. Participants found that a specific treatment approach was not better at the time of treatment. However, the benefits of & # 39; s therapies for psychotherapy have been around for a long time. When it was first recorded, patients with PTSD who received psychotherapy had a greater improvement in symptoms compared to those who received only medications. In addition, the combination of both treatments and medications was significantly better in the long term than the drugs alone.

This meta-analysis presents the strongest argument while still evidence-based psychotherapy is superior to the only drugs that help reduce symptoms of & # 39; PTSD & # 39 ;. The combination of the two methods also has merit and is superior to the drugs alone, though not statistically better than psychotherapy alone.

Which type of psychotherapy is most effective in PTSD?

Question & # 39; questions are still about which type of psychotherapy is most effective. Evidence suggests that cognitive behavioral therapy, extended-release therapy, Safe Tracking therapy, and EMDR help many people with PTSD. However there are no head-to-head trials and there is no convincing evidence of those who have been arrested.

Importance: Advocate and seek help early

Until a rigorous comparative study is completed, people experiencing trauma should be the best advocates. As a psychologist with experience in this area, I recommend the following:

  • Protect yourself soon after injury.
  • Beware of early symptoms, such as mood and sleep disturbances.
  • Be aware if symptoms appear to be getting worse or worse over time.
  • Be prepared to listen to family members, loved ones, and your health care team, who may identify problem areas as they arise.
  • Seek treatment first, with a mental health professional who has extensive experience in treating PTSD using one of the above treatment approaches.

Taking these steps offers the best opportunity to reduce symptoms and improve the quality of life after a traumatic accident.

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