PTSD stands for post-traumatic stress disorder and is a mental condition that has been triggered by a traumatic episode in an individual’s life.
Just some examples of a traumatic episode are being actively involved in war, experiencing rape and other forms of sexual abuse. Other episodes that can trigger post-traumatic stress disorder are a natural disaster, a plane crash or car accident, a terrorist attack, the sudden death of someone with whom a patient has a very strong emotional attachment to, a kidnapping, or child abuse.
All human beings experience stresses and tragedies at one point or another. However, they react differently to these unfortunate events. By far, the two most common reactions are fight and flight.
To illustrate, upon experiencing a harrowing event that may have the person directly involved, such individual may further confront the situation. Another response can constitute fleeing instead from the dire circumstance by refusing to acknowledge that the event ever happened. These are two extreme scenarios and there is likely to be countless variations in between.
Psychotherapy is easily the most popular way to treat PTSD. It involves meeting regularly with a psychiatrist to talk about one’s harrowing experience or sighting. The treatment is strongly premised upon the assumption that if the aggrieved party is encouraged to open up regarding how the tragedy has affected him or her, there is a greater likelihood of overcoming the psychological malady.
However, how this assumption translates into reality is easier said than done. For example, an individual may seem to react positively to the treatment. He or she appears to be taking the sessions in stride, apart from contributing actively to getting well. The next thing the psychologist knows, another tragedy follows the unfortunate event, such as the individual causing harm to himself, herself or to others.
The nature of most psychological ailments is that there is no way of exactly measuring just how much recovery has been made by the patient or how effective the treatment methodology has been. The same thing goes for the medications-based cure for PTSD. These drugs try to target certain symptoms but the treatment for the psychological disorder is not yet an exact science nor will it ever be.
The situation is best illustrated through a cursory examination of just what precisely are the drugs out in the market to cure the disorder. To-date, two drugs have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. These are sertraline that is branded as Zoloft and paroxetine, sold as Paxil in drugstores. Of course, these two medications can only be purchased by prescription.
Before going deeper into the specific applications for the two prescriptions, the following are the main symptoms of PTSD: Guilt, shame, and blaming oneself; blatant lack of trust and powerful feelings of betrayal; depression, hopelessness, and suicidal tendencies; drug addiction or overdose; and, psychosomatic illnesses with no apparent physical cause such as extreme back pains or migraines.
PTSD medications try to target the above symptoms in an attempt to cure the ailment. Specifically, such drugs work on the serotonin present in the human body in an attempt to control mood swings. After all, the neurotransmitter is known to affect moods and feelings of anxiety. In general, effective medical treatments work on serotonin and other neurotransmitters in order to control, obliterate or minimize the known symptoms of the mental disease.
Other neurotransmitter targets are norepinephrine and dopamine. Popular PTSD medications also focus on the body’s natural acids such as gamma-aminobutyric acids and excitatory amino acids. These naturally-occurring substances are responsible for transmitting messages and the overall communication of the entire cellular structure of the body. They work on the nerves and ultimately, the brain of the individual.
Doctors caution against the use of Benzodiazepines to treat the medical malady in question. They say that these drugs are not only ineffective in the treatment of PTSD. Like atypical anti-psychotics, these drugs can also be needlessly addicting for patients.
It is for the simple reason that both the psychiatric and pharmaceutical treatments are still at the relatively infancy stage in treating PTSD that the physician who combines both methodologies is wise. As far as the psychiatric aspect goes, doctors commonly employ variants of psychoanalysis such as Cognitive Behavior or Processing therapies, Prolonged Exposure and the Eye Movement Desensitization technique.
These psychiatric variations have their own individual advantages depending on the patient’s personality and psychosocial makeup. For best results, patients should seek a second opinion before settling for any of the top 3 treatments for PTSD.