Millions of people in the United States suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and it’s not just combat veterans. Men, women, and children from all walks of life experience its symptoms – flashbacks, intrusive thoughts, avoidance, intense fear – after living through a traumatic or deadly event. Thankfully, treatment options are available.
HOW DO YOU DIAGNOSE PTSD?
To diagnose PTSD, your healthcare provider will follow these steps:
- Carry out a physical exam to rule out underlying medical issues.
- Do a mental health screening including talking about symptoms and the traumatic event.
- Confer with the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association.
Diagnosis involves recollection of a trauma that included actual or the perceived threat of violence, death, or severe injury.
HOW DO I TREAT PTSD?
In most cases, treating symptoms of PTSD involves some combination of psychotherapy and medication. Cognitive Behavioral Theory (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy that has steadily returned the most positive outcomes in the treatment of PTSD over the short and long term in addition to an innovative new form of treatment called ketamine infusion therapy.
- Cognitive Processing Therapy “is an adaptation of cognitive therapy that aims toward the recognition and reevaluation of trauma-related thinking. The treatment focuses on the way people view themselves, others, and the world after experiencing a traumatic event. Often, inaccurate thinking after a traumatic event “keep you stuck” and thus prevent recovery from trauma.”
- Prolonged Exposure, another type of CBT, relies more clearly on behavioral therapy methods to help patients slowly deal with trauma-related emotions, memories, and situations. This therapy focuses on experiences to help patients confront trauma reminders.
- Stress Inoculation Training seeks to reduce fear by building survival skills to cope with stress that may accompany PTSD. It can be used as a distinct treatment or combined with multiple kinds of CBT.
WHAT IS KETAMINE?
Originally formulated in 1962 as a universal anesthetic, ketamine then gained approval of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for widespread human use. The drug garnered popular acceptance when it was then utilized to treat American combat troops fighting in Vietnam. The drug continues to be utilized as a preoperative anesthetic, sometimes for minor surgery, and to calm irate or agitated persons. For the last several years, ketamine has undergone extensive research and discussion about its efficacy to treat mental health illnesses like anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, and PTSD.
OTHER KINDS OF TREATMENT
Symptoms of PTSD can also be minimized with other kinds of therapy:
- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing is a type of psychotherapy with the goal of processing frightening trauma-related memories, thoughts, and feelings. Patients are asked to be aware of either a sound or back-and-forth eye movement when examining the trauma memory.
- Present Centered Therapy is a type of non-trauma devoted treatment which clusters around present matters rather than directly treating the experience.
HOW TO RESPOND TO SOMEONE WITH PTSD?
If someone you care about suffers from PTSD, there are ways to respond which could result in a positive outcome:
- Ask questions: What can I do to help? When do you feel most vulnerable? How can I help you when that goes down? Open-ended questions are normally the best strategy.
- Be delicate: People without PTSD often don’t realize how trauma changed the person.
- Nurture feelings of self-control: If you help or let the person build a veil of control, that helps to restore self-confidence, of being able to talk openly about what happened, and a commitment to get help.
- Be patient: If a friend or loved one suffering from PTSD declines an invitation or seems uncomfortable with normal activities, like going to the park or having brunch, don’t perceive the snub as a personal rebuttal. Instead, ask how they’re doing and talk about other plans, like talking over the phone or enjoying small-group events.
- Offer to help and listen.
- Be nonjudgmental.
- Listen without interrupting.
PTSD is a severe mental health disorder, born of death, injury, and harrowing experiences, which amplifies a person’s natural fight-or-flight response. Like other mental illnesses, it can’t be cured. But its symptoms are treatable. Contact us today to learn more about the clinical use of ketamine to help treat the symptoms of PTSD, and schedule a free consultation with a nurse anesthesiologist to learn if ketamine infusion therapy is right for you.