Other Treatments for Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
In addition to medications, other treatments are available to help you manage PTSD. These include the following:
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
EMDR is a relatively new therapy for trauma survivors. It includes components of exposure therapy and
Group therapy allows you to share your traumatic experience in a safe, cohesive, and supportive environment with other trauma survivors. A group setting can help you achieve greater understanding and trust as you face your anger, grief,
Brief Psychodynamic Psychotherapy
Brief psychodynamic psychotherapy helps you deal with emotional conflicts caused by the traumatic experience, especially as they relate to childhood experiences. This type of therapy will help you build a greater sense of self-esteem and develop more effective ways of thinking, coping, and dealing with intense emotions. Your therapist can also help you identify present situations that trigger traumatic memories and worsen PTSD symptoms.
Cognitive-behavioral Therapy (CBT)
CBT can help you examine your feelings and thought patterns, learn to interpret them in a more realistic way, and apply coping techniques to various situations. CBT can teach you coping skills, such as breathing exercises, to reduce anxiety, negative thoughts, and anger. It may also help you handle future trauma, reduce your urge to use
One form of CBT commonly used with trauma survivors is exposure therapy.
Prolonged Exposure Therapy (PET)
PET emphasizes reducing avoidance of traumatic memories. Various techniques are used to help you re-experience the trauma in a safe, controlled, therapeutic setting so that you can face and gain control over the fear and distress that accompanied the trauma. These include the following:
- Flooding—for example, your therapist asks you to focus on several bad memories at once
- Imaginal exposure—repeatedly reliving the traumatic events in your mind
- In vivo exposure—planned confrontations with objects or situations that prompt bad memories and increase anxiety
These therapies can be done gradually, using relaxation techniques and desensitization.
In study involving female military personnel suffering from PTSD, prolonged exposure was significantly more effective at relieving, and even resolving, PTSD symptoms than supportive (non-CBT) therapy after 10 weekly sessions.
Anxiety Disorders Association of America website. Available at: http://www.adaa.org/ .
Foa EB, Dancu CV, Hembree EA, Jaycox LH, Meadows EA, Street GP. A comparison of exposure therapy, stress inoculation training, and their combination for reducing post-traumatic stress disorder in female assault victims. J Consult Clin Psychol. 1999;67:194-200.
National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder website. Available at: http://www.ncptsd.va.gov/ .
Taylor S, Thordarson DS, Federoff IC, Maxfield L, Lovell K, Ogrodniczuk J. Comparative efficacy, speed, and adverse effects of three PTSD treatments: exposure therapy, EMDR, and relaxation training. J Consult Clin Psychol. 2003;71:330-338.
*¹DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance : Schnurr PP, Friedman MJ, Engel CC, et al. Cognitive behavioral therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder in women: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA. 2007;297:820-830.
Last reviewed March 2009 by
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