It is very important to understand the core stimulus of the post-traumatic stress disorder before a remedy should be identified. One of the challenges for psychotherapists is to make the patient open up and describe the event that had caused the trauma. One may wish there’s something like an eraser that could be used to wipe the traumatic experience from his memory or pull a power cord from his brain that would reset the memory, but these are just wishful thinking and more of a pipe-dream. At the core of all PTSD treatments there is only one goal -to make you learn to come to terms with yourself – a kind of meeting yourself half-way, recognizing that the past cannot be reversed, but steps can be taken to ensure that the present and future does not involve another such a traumatic experience.
Medications for PTSD treatment
A key element of PTSD is depression, following be excessive anxiety. Anti-depressant may be prescribed to the patient to calm down the nervous system. When your mind is calm, your physiology also relaxes. If the patient is also suffering from excessive nightmares and episodes of waking up in a cold sweat, tranquilizers may be prescribed. However, patients could develop an inclination to overdose on such medications, which could do more harm than any good. So if medications are prescribed as a part of PTSD treatment routine, they should be properly monitored and controlled. However, medications are seldom the only remedy for PTSD. These are short-term and temporary in nature and there is a risk that the patient may get addicted to it.
Furthermore, there is the possibility that the medication may start to lose its potency after a while when the body gets used to it.
Group Therapy as a PTSD treatment
As discussed earlier, the most challenging aspect of PTSD treatment is to make the patient open up and provide an accurate description of the event. Patients have the inclination to keep things bottled up like they’ve always been ever since that traumatic event occurred in their life. Moreover, they feel that the trauma is a personal demon that nobody can help eliminate. Such mental stigmas are the core inhibitors for treating PTSD sufferers. They tend to believe that they are beyond help and nothing can help them overcome their problem.
Research and statistics have proven, however, that if several patients who have suffered similar traumatic experiences before are brought together and made to talk among their experience, they feel more agreeable to open up. This is the core philosophy behind group therapy which is centered on the concept of sympathetic bonding.
Let’s say, for example, you are an accountant by profession and you are asked to participate in a forum where a bunch of cardiologists are discussing the latest advances in open-heart surgery, do you think you will open up and talk about why it is so important to have credits and debits cancel each other for a correct balance sheet? But in that same forum, even the most introvert cardiologist who has never met anyone else in the group could be seen to turn out to be a very active contributor to an invigorating discussion. This is the concept of “the like attracting like” or sympathetic bonding. This is what group therapy entails when used as a PTSD treatment method.
The psychotherapist(s) may be present physically or behind a one-way glass wall or through a video feed among the group of PTSD sufferers, who may or may not be aware that their conversation is being monitored by a qualified mental healthcare professional(s). As the subjects begin to talk casually at first, eventually they start to talk about their experiences. That is when the psychotherapist(s) present get busy taking notes and analyzing the conversation.
After a while, the patients really start to open up one by one in the company of fellow sufferers (or sympathizers) and can begin a vivid replay of the traumatic event. Such descriptions provide valuable insight to the psychotherapist(s) on the nature of the problem, which in turn helps them analyze and determine possible remedies.
Post-session research has also revealed that PTSD patients feel more relaxed having the opportunity to “bare their chest” and finally have someone that they can relate to, listen to, and share their own traumatic experience. It is the same effect as opening the lid off a pressurized container. The release of all that tension and pent-up grief, by simply discussing their experiences with like-minded people significantly helps to relax their nervous system. Whatever the psychotherapist recommends after such sessions can only have a positive effect on the patient.
Other PTSD treatment such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has proven themselves to be pretty effective as long as the patient is willing to open up and provide a true account of their experience. Patients have been reported to get into shock and feel extremely distressed when asked to describe their experiences, so it is very important that the psychotherapist does not rush through the session or convey any sense of urgency to the patient. Instead, this should be approached cautiously and delicately with a keen eye for any sense of over-exertion by the patient.