Treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric condition caused by trauma and treated by cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR), group and individual therapy.

Causes of PTSD

You may go on to suffer from PTSD if you experience or are witness to a life-threatening event or a particularly traumatic occurrence. PTSD is a condition which can affect both men and women, regardless of their age.

Traumatic situations most associated with PTSD are:

  • Rape
  • Events whilst serving in armed forces
  • Childhood neglect
  • Childhood physical abuse
  • Being threatened or assaulted
  • Being stalked, harassed or bullied
  • Suffering a bereavement
  • Witnessing road accidents

Other factors that can cause PTSD include natural disasters, terrorist attacks, serious accidents, or even being diagnosed with a serious illness.

Symptoms associated with PTSD

Symptoms of PTSD are both psychological and physical. These usually develop within three months of the traumatic event, although they can appear up to a year later. These include:

  • Reliving the experience through nightmares and flashbacks
  • Numbness and loss of deep feelings
  • Difficulty in concentrating
  • Suffering painful emotions such as guilt, anger and anxiety
  • Avoidance of dealing with grief, anger and anxiety
  • Avoidance of activities that could trigger memories of the event
  • Depression
  • Alcohol or drug use
  • Headaches, dizziness and chest pains
  • Irritability and difficulty sleeping

For more information, take a look at our symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder page.

Diagnosis of PTSD

To assess whether you are suffering from PTSD, you may be required to undergo structured interviews and psychological assessments. The symptoms of PTSD must also last for at least a month.

You may be prescribed medication to reduce the anxiety, depression and insomnia often experienced with PTSD. In some cases, medication may help to relieve the distress and emotional numbness caused by traumatic memories, and also helps you to participate in psychotherapy sessions. A range of antidepressant drugs are also used in treating the condition.

Treatment for PTSD

Once an individual is diagnosed with PTSD, there are a range of treatments available. Priory specialists will talk through the options available and recommend the most suitable treatment based on your personal circumstances. PTSD treatment options include:

Trauma-focused CBT

CBT helps you to understand your thought processes and how to change your feelings and reactions to your symptoms. One form of CBT is known as exposure therapy, which is unique to treating trauma. This involves you imagining the trauma in a safe, controlled environment to help you to face up to your fears. This enables our specialists to examine your reactions to the event and help you to overcome your anger, shame or guilt. This will enable you to deal with traumatic memories and feelings without becoming overwhelmed or emotionally numb.

Read more on cognitive behavioural therapy.

EMDR for PTSD

EMDR combines elements of exposure therapy and CBT with eye-movement techniques. While concentrating on your traumatic experience, special rapid eye movements will help you through the healing process and improve your confidence.

Read more information on eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR)

Group treatment for PTSD

By discussing your emotions and trauma with a group of other PTSD sufferers, you will achieve greater understanding of your condition and emotions. Group PTSD treatment will help you to become more confident and trusting, and enable you to focus on the present rather than the past.

Brief psychodynamic psychotherapy

This focuses on the emotional conflicts caused by the traumatic event, particularly experiences when you were young. By working with a calm and unbiased therapist, you will achieve a greater sense of self-esteem and develop effective methods of thinking and coping with intense emotions.

PTSD outpatient package

Priory also provides a tailored 1:1 outpatient therapy package for PTSD. Our packages offer certainty of price for a set amount of 1:1 therapy sessions, including discounted rates. The amount of sessions that we recommend within each package is based on national guidelines.

For further details on how Priory can provide you with further assistance regarding Treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), please call 0800 840 3219. For professionals looking to make a referral, please click here