How Do I Treat PTSD?

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


What Are The Triggers For PTSD?

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health illness that’s sparked by a horrifying event — either witnessing it or experiencing it. Symptoms can include nightmares, flashbacks, and severe anxiety, plus uncontrollable thoughts related to the event. It can affect anyone, and not just soldiers or first responders. It can’t be cured, but help is available through psychotherapy and the use of medicine like ketamine.


If you experience the symptoms of PTSD from physical injury or emotional distress due to an accident or combat, it’s presumed that triggers or situations will activate it. There are many to watch out for:

  • Seeing a person with a connection to the trauma, or who might have gone through it with you. Another person could have a physical trait that serves as a reminder.
  • Thoughts and emotions, like helplessness, stress, fear, could activate symptoms.
  • An object, including the contour of a common item, can unearth traumatic recollections and trigger PTSD.
  • Scents from a fire pit or exhaust from a diesel engine can be entwined with traumatic memories.
  • PTSD symptoms can happen if you return to the place where the incident happened, or just visiting someplace that serves as a reminder, like a forest or dark alley.
  • TV shows, Twitter or other social media, news reports, and mobile phone apps can all double as triggers and make symptoms flare up.
  • Fear or anger and other emotions are potent triggers. Being touched on purpose or accident, especially on a body part that was injured, could result in a distressing flashback.

Can PTSD and the effects of triggers be controlled with medication? Yes. The VA has conducted research with many organizations and universities to study the power of antidepressants like ketamine and discovered it offers relief for harmful memories, thoughts, and behaviors related to PTSD.

  • Hearing specific noises, songs, or voices may induce memories of the trauma.
  • The taste of a food or beverage could remind you of where the incident happened.
  • You may connect situations with the incident, like a crowd of spectators at a baseball game or being stuck in a grocery store check-out line.
  • People who experience a traumatic event always remember the anniversary of what happened. If you lived through the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, that date will forever trigger a physical or emotional reaction.


For people suffering from PTSD, the triggers can be clear or subtle. Triggers that are subtle may not be recognizable until a response happens. Some people insist their symptoms appeared out of nowhere; truthfully, they’re usually caused by an imperceptible trigger.
Sensations of hyperventilation or danger is a signal that you’ve experienced a PTSD trigger. A doctor or therapist can help you recognize triggers and educate you on coping mechanisms.


Imagine the shock a firefighter faced after racing to the Pentagon immediately following the 9/11 attacks, or a frontline soldier in Vietnam during the peak of the war. Now you may understand the impacts of a postponed mental disorder on a person suffering from PTSD. Not all who survive unharmed will experience PTSD, but those suffering injuries could harbor risk markers described by the National Institute of Mental Health:

  • Survived a horrifying event or trauma.
  • Suffered major physical or psychological harm.
  • Served as a witness while someone was badly injured or killed.
  • Experienced childhood trauma.
  • Memories of past events dredge up feelings of horror, helplessness, or severe fear.
  • Lacks entry to a support group after the trauma.
  • Victimized by severe anxiety blamed on pain and injury, the death of a loved one, financial troubles, or home eviction.
  • Struggles with substance abuse or mental illness.


Sometimes you think you suffer from PTSD. The symptoms, like micro-explosions in your brain, are a notice that you likely need help. After discussing your symptoms with a therapist or doctor, therapy plans are reviewed, including drugs like ketamine and talk therapy.

Yale researchers discovered that ketamine has fast and robust antidepressant effects when administered in low doses. There is considerable interest in ketamine and related drugs as a potential treatment for depression and PTSD because they function differently in the brain, repairing or strengthening neurotransmitters critical in how we perceive trauma and pain.
There are many triggers for PTSD, none of which should be ignored.

Recognizing them is the first step in learning to manage the condition. If you suffer from PTSD, we can help. Contact us today to learn more about the innovative new forms of treatment that we offer, and schedule a free consultation with a nurse anesthesiologist to learn if ketamine infusion therapy is right for you.

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