Many people have suffered trauma at some time during their lifetimes. Abuse from one’s past, witnessing of a crime, or serving in the armed forces can all lead to trauma that develops into a wide variety of mental disorders. The most common of these disorders is post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD. Individuals with PTSD may be forced to relive the traumatic event in the form of nightmares or flashbacks, may avoid places or people that remind one of the events, and have negative emotions or thoughts. Family and friends of the PTSD patient may avoid the person due to their outbursts or self-destructive behavior. This is why seeking help from a qualified mental health professional is the best treatment for those who suffer from trauma-related disorders.
Treatments for trauma-related disorders often include medications. Many clinicians choose combinations of antidepressants, such as Paxil or Zoloft, and anti-anxiety medications, such as Xanax or Ativan, to alleviate the symptoms of PTSD and related disorders. Some of the medications are very helpful and may even be necessary depending on the severity of the symptoms of the patient. These medications are not without their drawbacks, however. Medications have side effects and may cause some patients to become suicidal. In addition, recent research advises us that medication may not be as effective as counseling for patients with past trauma.
Counseling has been found to be the most helpful form of treatment for PTSD according to the U.S. department of Veteran’s Affairs. Two counseling techniques, cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT, and exposure therapy have been found to be the most effective treatments to date. CBT strives to change the way a patient thinks about trauma and life while encouraging more healthy behaviors. In exposure therapy, a patient will discuss the traumatic event repeatedly while learning stress-relieving skills to prevent the patient from becoming overwhelmed.
Individuals who have experienced traumatic events should seek out a counselor that can help them in their journey to recovery. Patients with PTSD should seek individual counseling, but may also wish to explore group therapy, to get confirmation from those who have been through the same experiences, or family counseling, for families dealing with the behaviors of a patient with trauma-related disorders. Children and adolescents can also suffer from the effects of trauma and should seek child and adolescent therapy. Qualified counselors are available at Stonebriar Counseling Associates.