Truth be told? I'm not a doctor...I'm just like you. Although I live with PTSD, I cannot tell you how it's diagnosed as doctors take a lot of varying factors and life experiences into consideration before diagnosing someone with PTSD. What I can tell you is...there are options and there are things we can do to help ourselves through it. PTSD does not have to control our lives.
Today I would like to share some introductory information about diagnosing and treating PTSD. If you've ever wondered about PTSD...please speak to your doctor. This information is not shared to replace the conversation but to encourage you to start one.
If you're wondering if you're living with it too...or living with someone who is experiencing this...education is key! Learn the facts and learn what you can do to help yourself through. What are your triggers? Learn them and also what helps you to calm you. There are support groups that can be a great benefit for us...check them out okay?
PTSD may now be a part of your life...but it's not your life. It's not who you are either...but something you live with. There are options...will you explore them for you?
How Do I Know If I Have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?
If you have symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or are at risk of the condition, make an appointment with a qualified mental health professional who has experience treating patients with PTSD. Diagnosis is based on a report of your history in the aftermath of a life-threatening or violent trauma. The health care provider will ask questions about your symptoms; ask you to describe the traumatic event; ask about your childhood, educational, and work experiences; and relationships with others.
PTSD may also include:
- Acute stress disorder: symptoms occurring within four weeks of the trauma
- PTSD with delayed expression : the full collection of symptoms does not appear until at least six months after the trauma
- PTSD preschool type: applies to children less than 6 years old
- Other disorders that often accompany PTSD are depression, other anxiety disorders, and alcohol or drug abuse. You may be evaluated for these conditions as well.
What Are the Treatments for PTSD?
Psychotherapy for PTSD
- Various forms of psychotherapy are helpful in PTSD.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) helps a person learn behavioral techniques for relaxation and restructure patterns of thinking that foster anxiety.
- Exposure therapy involves systematically exposing someone to the memories and events associated with a trauma and reducing the fear response to these events, under the guidance of a trained therapist.
- EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) involves presenting the patient with various visual and tactile stimuli meant to release emotional experiences and free the mind of blockages.
- In addition, support groups help people with PTSD work through their feelings with others who have had similar experiences.
The goal of therapy is to encourage the patient to recall all details of the event, express grief, complete the mourning process, and get on with life. For children, this may involve play therapy.
Medications for PTSD
Although benzodiazepines, such as Valium, Xanax, and Ativan, are commonly prescribed for short-term, immediate relief of anxiety symptoms associated with PTSD, some authorities warn against their use because their value for treating PTSD symptoms has not been well-established . Long-term use of these medications is strongly discouraged.
A class of antidepressants known as selective-serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as Celexa, Paxil, Prozac, Lexapro, and Zoloft, help modify levels of neurotransmitters (chemicals) that foster appropriate communication between nerve cells, and can improve PTSD.
Research also suggests that other medications, such as beta-blockers and corticosteroids, may help diminish the likelihood for forming strong negative emotional memories when given soon after experiencing a highly traumatic event.
The blood pressure medicine prazosin has also been shown in preliminary research studies to help alleviate nightmares associated with PTSD
Anti-epileptic drugs with mood stabilizing properties, such as Depakote or Tegretol, may lessen mood swings and explosive anger.
Anti-psychotic drugs may help people with PTSD who have persistent paranoia.
WebMD Medical Reference
Reviewed by Joseph Goldberg, MD on March 22, 2015
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