Dealing with PTSD. Is there a hope?

Is there a proper way of dealing with PTSD? It is not recommended to use specific psychological interventions too soon after the traumatic events. Numerous current research on PTSD show that various physiological changes in the body are normal reaction to stress. These changes include: severe anxiety, sadness, anger, grief, sleep disturbances, performance impairment, avoidance of thoughts and places associated with the trauma, difficulty concentrating, involuntary re-experiencing of the traumatic events. Most of these symptoms go away on their own without the specific psychotherapeutic interventions.

However, in some cases, stressful events can initiate the onset of a number of psychogenic disorders (psychogenic psychosis, depression, anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorders). According to current diagnostic approaches, one of the most important disorders related to the trauma is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – is the result of the experienced severe stress with the specific combination of symptoms, which persist for at least 1 month. If the symptoms persist for more than 3 months, the diagnostic code is changed from acute form of disease to chronic. If the symptoms appear after 6 months from the stressful event, one may talk of the delayed onset of PTSD (according to DSM-IV).

Therapeutic strategies of dealing with PTSD.

Dealing with PTSD your therapist will help to eliminate the disease using the following therapeutic strategies:

  • Problem definition, and recognition of the disorder, identification of alcohol abuse or other substance abuse; checking history of the previous injury; assessment of depression and anxiety severity;
  • Identification of main topics that will be targeted in the To do this, the patient is asked to go back to the event and try to determine the most difficult moments in the incident. Usually the therapist is looking for the memories, associated with the discomfort (often accompanied by very strong emotional reactions). These moments are targeted during the therapy.
  • Definition of meaning, which is given by the patient to these events. The therapist asks does he/she experience the involuntary images and checks the modality of leading emotional experiences (sadness, grief, anxiety, anger, guilt, etc.).
  • Identification of the effects of trauma (changes in emotional and physical condition, behavior deviation);
  • Further work on the trauma processing – the revival of traumatic memories and its restructuring.

There are many types of such therapy. One of the ways of dealing with PTSD – is verbal description of traumatic events by the patient, while staying in the present. Returning to the present is achieved through continuous questions of the therapist: “What do you see now?”, “What are you feeling right now?”, “Where do you feel that feeling?”, “What thoughts run through your head right now?”. The aim of this work is to change the inadequate attitudes and beliefs about the traumatic event, accompanied by changes in emotional experience.

Another way of dealing with PTSD is independent composition of a written story. During the independent work of the patient with traumatic memories the therapist asks to describe a traumatic event with a maximum of details of what have happened, including colors, smells, sounds, sensations, feelings and thoughts, and then the patient reads the story aloud. In the course of reading the therapist asks different questions (“What kind of feelings, emotions and sensations do you feel?”), which help to understand the patient’s attitude. Writing down the experience of the patient helps to integrate the scattered memories of the trauma and restore their dissociated fragments.