Psychotherapy and Medications for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, how common is it? How does someone get it? A big stigma with PTSD seems to be that the men and women who serve this country are the only ones to suffer from it but what about everyone else in America suffering? In this paper, we will take a look at Psychotherapy and Medications, and their ability to aid post-traumatic stress disorder patients as-well-as characteristics of PTSD.
Thinking of PTSD and someone suffering from it, and even through depictions in movies, we often see them avoiding memories and situations reminding them of the traumatic event(s), issues sleeping, irritability and hypervigilance. Often someone suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder has faced an event in their life that has left its imprint in their memory and personality. Many times, they try to avoid this memory and block it out leading to the symptoms mentioned previously. About 8% of men and 20% of women develop PTSD, and roughly 30% of these individuals develop a chronic form that continues throughout their lifetimes. (Ripley, E. 2015). Research suggest that after facing overwhelming trauma, the mind is unable to process information and emotions normally. It’s as though the thoughts and feelings at the time of the traumatic event take on a life of their own, causing distress becoming a conscious problem. (Cohen, H. 2017). “For men, rape, combat exposure, childhood neglect, and childhood physical abuse are the most common event linked to PTSD; for women, rape, sexual molestation, physical attack, being threatened with a weapon, and childhood physical abuse. (Ripley, E. 2015). “It is generally thought that the best way to diagnose PTSD-or any psychiatric disorder, for that matter is to combine findings from structured interviews and questionnaires with physiological assessments. (Military.com).
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Talking to a friend, family member, loved one or even a professional may help with a stressful situation in life, and is very common. Psychotherapy is one of the most popular and a very effective treatment for someone suffering from PTSD. Most people suffering from PTSD do some type of psychotherapy, usually one-on-one therapy, group therapy, or a combination of the two. (Cohen, H. 2017). A psychotherapist approach to help someone with PTSD is time-limited and can be successful in about a year by most people with mild to medium symptoms. (Cohen, H. 2017). Many psychotherapy treatments often involve some temporary discomfort when thinking or talking about the event causing PTSD. The patient receiving psychotherapy has to able to cope with and handle the discomfort; most therapists are aware of this and will help the patient while conducting treatment. (Staggs, S. 2018) Psychotherapy is broken down into three steps. Phase 1: Attaining patient safety, lowering and controlling symptoms, and improving competencies, Phase 2: Reassessing traumatic memories, Phase 3: Consolidating the gains. Phase one is all about building, where clinicians use any remedy with proven results to improve: regulating emotions, mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, cognitive restructuring, behavioral changes in behavior, and relaxation. This stage of treatment can help someone in need of critical help and move on to the next phase. Phase two, success of this stage depends on someone’s capability to tolerate the pain of reviewing memories. Patients who have suffered a single incident trauma might even be ready to withstand the exposure with minimal distress tolerance training, while others with more elaborate trauma may need longer treatment in order to enhance skills and support to process their trauma. Phase three, helps patients practice new skills and understand themselves and their traumatic experience; and can also include sessions focused on strengthening skills, expanding support systems, and creating an ongoing care plan. Personally, several members of my leadership are suffering from PTSD from previous deployments and after asking them about their experience with different treatments they have undergone, the majority said that talking to someone or a group does help them alleviate some of the stress that PTSD causes them.
Treatment is often a combination of Medications and Psychotherapy; medications may treat only some of the symptoms. Medications don’t stop someone from having flashbacks or feelings connected with the original trauma. (Cohen, H. 2017). The risk when using anti-depressants may include: nausea, loss of sexual desire, other sexual problems, such as erectile dysfunction, decreased orgasm, fatigue, drowsiness, insomnia, blurred vision, constipation, dizziness, irritability, and anxiety. (Allen, A.). I personally know a few people who take anti-depressants and claim to suffer from sexual issues caused by these medications, their treatment options are to take different anti-depressants or to take medications for erectile dysfunctions and sexual health; this seems counterproductive when taking into consideration; there are more natural substances out there. Studies have proven that PTSD patients may better manage their symptoms with the use of cannabis. Maintaining emotional homeostasis and regulating memories may be achieved by the cannabinoids found in marijuana which influences the body’s endocannabinoid system playing an essential role in aiding patients. (Ripley, E. 2015). With the use of marijuana patients my experience permanent results. “Findings support that cannabis has the potential to dampen the strength and emotional impact of traumatic memories. (Ripley, E. 2015). “PTSD patients saw a 75% reduction in symptoms, as measured by the Clinical Administered Post-Traumatic Scale when they were using cannabis compared to when they were not. (Ripley, E. 2015).
The two primary treatment options for PTSD currently are Psychotherapy and Medications. After taking a closer look at PTSD we find that PTSD can affect anyone, though Medications for treating PTSD are sometimes very effective they can be just as harmful to the patient and the possibility of using marijuana as a healthier form of treatment along with psychotherapy sessions may be more beneficial to those suffering from PTSD. Psychotherapy allows the patient to cope with symptoms, be more in control of memories and thoughts triggering symptoms of PTSD and move forward in their life past the traumatic event(s). If psychotherapy alone does not work, then I believe a better alternative to anti-depressants, would be a more natural approach to medical marijuana for its relaxing properties and tendency to fight anxiety and improving its users’ moods allowing patients to suffer from less negative side effects caused by anti-depressants.