Understanding And Managing A Loved One's PTSD

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From war and abuse to injuries and serious life events, the different types of trauma that can lead to PTSD are endless. An estimated 44.7 million people currently struggle with PTSD. While most people have heard of PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder is often misunderstood. If you believe your loved one is suffering from this condition, proper understanding is key to ensuring they receive treatment. Using this guide, you will learn the signs of PTSD and which treatment option is best for your loved one.

PTSD Signs

First and foremost, it is important to note that everyone will experience some stress and anxiety after a traumatic life event. These feelings are normal and will decrease over time. However, if your loved one's emotional reactions after a trauma are not improving, there is most likely a more serious issue that needs to be addressed.

Signs of PTSD vary from person to person, but here are a few common symptoms of this condition:

  • Reliving of events/flashbacks
  • Insomnia
  • Nightmares
  • Depression, hopelessness
  • Hyperactivity
  • Suicidal feelings and thoughts
  • Panic attacks
  • Substance abuse in an attempt to mask emotions
  • Physical ailments and pain that stem from emotional distress

Symptoms may improve, but if your loved one is displaying or feeling one or more of the above for longer than a month, they most likely have PTSD that requires treatment.

Therapy for PTSD

Many treatment options are available for patients with PTSD. Since the disorder can affect you and the rest of the family, you may also benefit from counseling and therapy to learn coping mechanisms and how to help your loved one live a normal life after a traumatic event.

Cognitive Behavior Therapy, or CBT, is one of the most popular options for patients with PTSD because it is so effective. Therapists will center this treatment around the actual trauma using exposure therapy and cognitive restructuring.

Exposure therapy allows your loved one to focus on the traumatic event, reliving it through mental imagery or visits to places or with people associated with the trauma.

CBT also uses cognitive restructuring. Your loved one will discuss the trauma, helping them understand why and how it occurred. This is an important part of therapy if patients feel guilt over the trauma.

Cognitive behavior therapy allows your loved one to identify, understand, and change thinking patterns associated with the traumatic event, which reduces the physical and emotional distress associated with the trauma.

Present Centered Therapy is another type of therapy that is suited for patients who want to cope with their PTSD without reliving the traumatic event. PCT focus on current issues as opposed to events centering around the traumatic event. This teaches them safe and beneficial coping mechanisms that can be used in daily life.

Medications for Treatment

In some instances where a patient's PTSD is more severe, prescription medications may be necessary. Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors, or SSRIs, block certain nerve cells in the brain, promoting serotonin production, which improves the mood.

SSRIs are effective for most anxiety disorders including depression, OCD, and PTSD. These medications are most effective when used in addition to counseling with a professional therapist.

If your loved one's PTSD causes them to experience physical pain or act out aggressively due to their condition, Benzodiazepines may be prescribed. Benzodiazepines calm the mind and body, promoting relaxation and reducing muscle tension and other physical symptoms associated with severe anxiety disorders.

Again, these medications should also be taken in addition to receiving professional counseling.

Living with PTSD is possible, but the condition can wreak havoc on your family's life. With this guide, you will understand the signs and learn treatment options to help your loved one manage the symptoms of their PTSD. For more information, contact establishments like Psych Dimensions Inc.