Stress: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Stress
Post Traumatic Stress:
Treatments for PTSD Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

In our everyday lives, any of us can have an experience that is overwhelming, frightening, and beyond our control. In some people, though, traumatic experiences set off a reaction that can last for many months or years. This is called Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD.

How does Post-Traumatic Stress start?

PTSD can start after any traumatic event

A traumatic event is one where we can see that we are in danger, our life is threatened, or where we see other people dying or being injured. Most people, in time, get over experiences like this without needing help. Some typical traumatic events would be:
  • serious road accidents
  • military combat
  • violent personal assault (sexual assault, physical attack, abuse, robbery, mugging)
  • being taken hostage
  • terrorist attack
  • being a prisoner-of-war
  • natural or man-made disasters
  • being diagnosed with a life-threatening illness.

Even hearing about an the unexpected injury or violent death of a family member or close friend can start PTSD.

Take now the free Post-Traumatic Stress Test: Are you suffering PTSD?

Symptoms Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

When does Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder start?

The symptoms of PTSD can start after a delay of weeks, or even months. They usually appear within 6 months of a traumatic event.

What does Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder feel like?

Many people feel grief-stricken, depressed, anxious, guilty and angry after a traumatic experience. As well as these understandable emotional reactions, there are three main types of symptoms produced by such an experience:
  • 1. Flashbacks & Nightmares
  • 2. Avoidance & Numbing
  • 3. Being "On Guard"
  • 4. Other Symptoms (muscle aches and pains, diarrhea, irregular heartbeats, headaches, feelings of panic and fear, depression, drinking too much alcohol)

Why are traumatic events so shocking?

They undermine our sense that life is fair, reasonably safe, and that we are secure. A traumatic experience makes it very clear that we can die at any time. The symptoms of PTSD are part of a normal reaction to narrowly avoided death.

Treatments Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a medical condition that affects a person’s thoughts, feelings and behaviors. There are many treatments available; however, the most common treatments are psychotherapy and/or medication.

Psychotherapy for Post-Traumatic Stress

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, is a treatment in which people work with trained behavorial health providers to discuss their problems and learn new skills. While there are a variety of psychotherapies available to treat PTSD, some have been proven to be more effective than others.

Cognitive behavioral therapy for PTSD is usually a structured, short-term treatment that has four main components:
1) Cognitive therapy
2) Exposure therapy
3) Relaxation techniques
4) Education about PTSD

How much time does it take?

A usual course of CBT for PTSD lasts about eight to 20 sessions but can vary based on the specific type of therapy.

Who does this therapy?

This type of therapy should be conducted by a trained provider and is usually available at behavioral health clinics.

Who does it work for?

Cognitive behavioral therapy has been proven to be an effective treatment in adults with PTSD

Medications for Post-Traumatic Stress

There are several types of medications that are commonly used to treat Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Anti-depressants are effective for treating adults.

Anti-depressant medications

Anti-depressants have been used to effectively treat a variety of anxiety disorders, including PTSD. The anti-depressants with the most evidence in helping patients with PTSD are the Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI)Zoloft, Paxil, Prozac and the Serotonin/Nor epinephrine Reuptake Inhibitor (SNRI) Effexor.


This type of medication is usually used to treat disorders like schizophrenia. However, they are also used in PTSD as an adjunctive medication (usually used in combination with an SSRI/SNRI).


These medications are used to help people with sleep and anxiety. However, they are not recommended for use in PTSD (especially combat veterans). They can cause side effects such as sedation and memory problems and may worsen PTSD for some types of patients. There is also a risk of becoming dependent on these medications so they should be used sparingly within PTSD.

How much time does it take?

The time frame for medications to start working and the duration for taking them depends on the type of medication and the severity of the person’s PTSD.

Who prescribes medications for PTSD?

Anti-depressants can be prescribed by primary care managers or by psychiatrists in behavioral health clinics. Other types of medications can be prescribed by PCMs as well; however, they are more likely to be prescribed by specialists.

When I've got over a traumatic experience?

When you can:
• think about it without becoming distressed
• not feel constantly under threat
• not think about it at inappropriate times. 

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