Diagnosis and Treatment of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) - Psychotherapy and Medication

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a mental health condition that develops in some people who have witnessed a scary, shocking, or terrifying event or experienced emotional and psychological trauma. 
To diagnose post-traumatic stress disorder in adults, all of the following symptoms must be present for at least 1 month: at least one avoidance symptom, or at least one re-experiencing symptom, or at least two arousal and reactivity symptoms. 
In the diagnosis of PTSD, the physician is more likely to undergo a physical test to check for medical problems and to conduct a psychological evaluation. 
Treatment of PTSD includes various types of psychotherapy as well as medications to manage symptoms. 
A combination of both treatment methods can help improve PTSD symptoms.
Post-traumatic stress disorder
Diagnosis and Treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder - psychotherapy and medication

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) - Diagnosis and Treatment

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder - An Overview

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a mental disorder that affects some people who have experienced a traumatic or painful event.
Although people usually have reactions after a certain trauma, the majority recovers, but in people with PTSD symptoms persist and may worsen. 

According to the World Health Organization, painful events and loss of loved one’s life are common in people's lives that cause PTSD.

About 3.6 percent of adult Americans suffer from PTSD during the course of a year, and approximately 7.8 million Americans will suffer at some point in their lives.

 PTSD symptoms may develop at any age, including childhood and teenage.

Women are more likely to develop PTSD symptoms than men. This can be due to the fact that women are more likely to be victims of social abuse, domestic violence, and rape.

The diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder is not done until at least one month has passed since the traumatic event and painful incident occurred.

If symptoms of PTSD are present, then the doctor will start evaluation by taking a full medical history and physical examination.

Although there are no laboratory tests specifically for the diagnosis of PTSD, doctors can use various tests to deal with physical and mental illness as a cause for symptoms.

The goal of treating PTSD is to reduce cognitive, emotional, behavioral and physical symptoms, to improve daily functioning, and to help the person deal better with a traumatic event that caused the disorder.
Treatment of PTSD may include medication, psychotherapy or both.

In this article, we will let you know how to diagnose and treat post-traumatic stress disorder.

How Do You Diagnose Someone with PTSD?

diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder
Diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder 

Diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

There is no specific test for the diagnosis of PTSD. So it can be difficult to diagnose the condition because people with this disorder may be reluctant to call or discuss the trauma or symptoms of PTSD.

A psychologist can diagnose PTSD which requires the following for one month or more:
  • At least one experience of re-experimenting
  • At least one of the symptoms of avoidance
  • At least two symptoms of excitement and emotion (Hyperarousal Symptoms)
  • At least two symptoms of perception and mood (cognitive symptoms)
Symptoms must be serious enough to interfere with daily activities, including going to work, school, or being around friends and family.

To diagnose post-traumatic stress disorder, your doctor is more likely to do:

Physical examination: It is done to detect medical problems that may cause symptoms of PTSD to you.

Mental Health Assessment: Conducting a psychological assessment that includes a discussion of signs, symptoms, events that have led to their emergence.

DSM-5 Criteria for PTSD: Using the criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association

Diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder requires exposure to an event that involves the actual or potential threat of death, violence or serious injury.
You may experience the event in one or more of the following ways:
  • Direct exposure to the painful event
  • Watching the painful event that others are experiencing
  • Personally know that someone close to you has been exposed or threatened by the painful event
  • You are repeatedly exposed to live details of painful events (for example, if you are the first to respond to a traumatic scene)
You may experience post-traumatic stress disorder if the problems you have experienced after the above-mentioned exposure for more than a month persist and cause significant problems with your ability to perform in social and practical settings and negatively affect your relationships.

Treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

If post-traumatic stress disorder is diagnosed, the doctor is likely to prescribe a range of treatments.
Receiving treatment for PTSD will help you regain control of your life. Psychotherapy is the primary method of treatment, and it can also include pharmacotherapy (Medication).
The combination of both treatments will improve the symptoms of PTSD. 
  • Learn the skills to deal with the symptoms you experience
  • Help you re-examine yourself, others, and the world around you
  • Inform you of the different ways in which you can adjust if symptoms reappear
  • Treat other problems associated with traumatic events, such as depression, anxiety, abuse of alcohol and drugs
You should not attempt to overcome PTSD alone.

Treatment of post-traumatic stress sisorder
Treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder - Psychotherapy and medication
Several types of psychotherapy, also called talk therapy, can be used to treat children and adults with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Some types of psychotherapy used to treat post-traumatic stress disorder include:

Behavioral Cognitive Therapy: This type of therapy can help you identify ways of thinking (cognitive patterns) that keep your interactions such as negative beliefs about yourself and the risk of traumatic things that happen again.
Encourage you to remember the traumatic event and express your feelings about it. This can help you remove the allergy to the shock and reduce the symptoms. Cognitive therapy is often used with post-traumatic stress disorder as well as exposure therapy.

Exposure therapy: This behavioral therapy helps you to safely confront both the situations and memories you find so frightening that you can learn to adapt to them effectively.
Exposure therapy can be especially helpful in cases of memories and nightmares.
One method uses virtual reality programs that allow you to enter the place where you have been hit again.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR):  EMDR combines exposure therapy with a series of guided eye movements that help you heal traumatic memories and change how you interact with them.

Group Therapy:  You can discuss your feelings with support groups or other people who have PTSD.
This will help you realize that your symptoms are not strange and that you are not alone.

Your therapist can help you develop stress management skills to help you better deal with stressful situations and cope with stress in your life.
All of these methods can help you control the constant fear after a traumatic event.
A mental health professional can discuss the type of treatment or combinations of treatments that best meet your needs.
You may try individual therapy or group therapy or both. Group therapy can provide a way to communicate with others who have the same experiences.

Many drugs can treat symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder such as antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs that help to sleep, to reduce the recurrence of frightening thoughts and help you get some rest.

Antidepressants: These drugs relieve the symptoms of stress and depression. It can also eliminate sleep disturbances and concentration problems.
The World Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has adopted drugs classified as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as sertraline (Zoloft) and paroxetine (Paxil), to treat PTSD and stress disorder.

Anti-Anxiety Medications: These drugs can alleviate severe anxiety and related problems. Some anti-anxiety drugs can be addictive, so use only for a short time.

Prazosin: Prazosin can treat symptoms such as insomnia and nightmares. Although not approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder, it is able to eliminate or reduce the nightmares facing the owners of the disorder.

Many people with PTSD turn to drugs and illegal alcohol to cope with their symptoms. While these methods may temporarily relieve symptoms of PTSD, they do not address the underlying cause of stress.
It can even make some symptoms worse. If you are having trouble taking drugs, go to your medical adviser.

You can work with your doctor to find the best treatment for your symptoms and condition, which leads to the least possible side effects.
You will notice that your symptoms and mood have improved over the course of several weeks.

Tell your doctor about any problems or side effects caused by medications. Sometimes you will need to try more than one medication or use a combination of drugs, or your doctor will need to adjust your medication doses or medication schedules to get the best result. 

Read more: How to Prevent Trauma from Becoming PTSD and What to Do If Your Loved One Has PTSD?

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