How is PTSD Treated?

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition caused by experiencing significant trauma. According to research, an estimated 3.6% of U.S. adults had PTSD in the past year. If you or a loved one suffer from this condition, you may be wondering how PTSD is treated. There are several effective treatments for PTSD, including various therapy techniques as well as medication that reduces the symptoms of PTSD. To explain, these PTSD treatment methods are used to minimize, or even eliminate, distressing symptoms of this condition. Continue reading to learn more about how PTSD is treated.

What is PTSD?

PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, is a mental health condition triggered by experiencing or witnessing a terrifying event. Most individuals who experience a traumatic event have a difficult time coping. However, with time and self-care, individuals usually recover from trauma on their own. On the other hand, individuals with PTSD experience difficult symptoms and a hard time functioning for months or even years after the traumatic event occurred.

Symptoms of PTSD may include flashbacks, nightmares, and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event.

Examples of traumatic events that can lead to PTSD:

  • Military combat
  • Witnessing violence or death
  • Sexual or physical assault
  • Natural disasters
  • Divorce
  • Abuse or neglect
  • Automotive accidents (cars, motorcycles, etc.)
  • Severe injury or illness
  • Traumatic birth (postpartum PTSD)
  • Terrorism
  • Diagnosis of a life-threatening illness
  • Emotional abuse

Individuals with PTSD typically require extensive treatment in order to make a full recovery. While there is no cure for PTSD, individuals recover from the symptoms after a combination of psychotherapy and medications. If you or a loved one suffer from this condition, continue reading to learn more about how PTSD is treated.

Medications for PTSD

Technically, there are no medications specifically designed to treat PTSD. However, many medications designed to treat other forms of mental illness have been found helpful in managing the symptoms of PTSD. Many of these medications are originally designed to treat mental health conditions such as mood and anxiety disorders.


SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, are a form of medication typically used to treat depression and anxiety. Since PTSD may include symptoms like depression and anxiety, these medications are helpful in the treatment of PTSD.

Examples of common SSRIs used in the treatment of PTSD include:

  • Sertraline (Zoloft)
  • Paroxetine (Paxil)
  • Fluoxetine (Prozac)

Studies have shown that sertraline is an effective medication in the treatment of PTSD.


While SSRIs are typically the go-to medications in the treatment of PTSD, SNRIs may be used as well. SNRIs, or serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, are often used to treat depression and anxiety. Because up to 50% of people with PTSD meet the criteria for major depressive disorder, SNRIs are prescribed in the treatment of PTSD. For example, one SNRI commonly used to treat PTSD is known as venlafaxine (Effexor).

Psychotherapy for PTSD

There are a variety of psychotherapy techniques used in the treatment of PTSD. However, there are a few forms of psychotherapy backed in research-based evidence concerning their effectiveness in the treatment of PTSD. Patients must think about what they would like to discuss with their therapist before attending treatment. For example, you should be prepared to talk about your thoughts, feelings, symptoms of PTSD, and more. In doing so, your therapist will be able to decipher which form of psychotherapy is best suited for you.

Cognitive Processing Therapy

Cognitive processing therapy is a form of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) used in the treatment of PTSD. This form of therapy focuses on how your traumatic event is perceived and how you tend to cope with the symptoms of your experience. Additionally, this form of therapy focuses on educating patients on the elements of CBT as well as emphasizing the importance of teamwork. During this form of PTSD treatment, you will process traumatic events and work through “stuck points”. Stuck points are defined as certain aspects of your trauma that prevent recovery. This method of counseling can be conducted in an individual and group setting.


EMDR is known as eye movement desensitization and reprocessing. EMDR is a form of psychotherapy often used in the treatment of PTSD. To explain, this technique utilizes side-to-side eye movements or bilateral sensory input. This is done to help you process difficult memories, thoughts, and emotions related to your trauma

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy, or CBT, is a form of psychotherapy commonly used in PTSD treatment. This form of talk-therapy focuses on the relationship between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. CBT typically targets current symptoms and problems relating to a patient’s PTSD. Additionally, CBT sessions usually last up to 12-16 sessions and can be done in either a group or individual setting.

During cognitive-behavioral therapy for PTSD, patients work to uncover distortions or unhelpful patterns in your thoughts and feelings related to trauma. Overall, the goal of CBT is to help patients return to a place of hope, have greater control of thoughts and behaviors, as well as help to reduce escape or avoidance behaviors.

Find Treatment for PTSD

There are a variety of treatment options available for individuals with PTSD. With new and innovative techniques emerging, the treatment of PTSD is becoming increasingly effective and accessible. Oftentimes, the key to recovery from PTSD begins with acknowledging that you may require professional treatment. Unfortunately, many individuals with PTSD suffer from feelings of shame and fear, making it difficult for them to initiate or seek help. If you or a loved one suffer from the symptoms of this condition, it may be time to consider attending treatment for PTSD.

If you are looking for a PTSD treatment provider, Voices of Mental Health is here to help. Contact us at 866-954-6841 to learn more about how PTSD is treated and where to find help.

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