- Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) In Veterans of War
How is PTSD treated?
- How PTSD diagnosed? There are no tests for diagnosing PTSD. It is mainly diagnosed through a comprehensive history of trauma and symptoms suggesting PTSD. Psychiatric experts have compiled a list of criteria that point to PTSD, which includes one or more of the following: A history of involvement in or witnessing one or more traumatic events that was frightening, violent, and/or life threatening or perceived as life threatening. Recurrent episodes of vivid flashbacks of the event, during which affected individual feel fearful, extremely anxious, or panicked. Recurrent nightmares about the event. Intense distress when exposed to situations, images, sounds, or smells that remind the individual of the event. A feeling of being on guard and anxious, as though something dangerous is about to happen. A tendency to over-react to stimuli, such as shouting, loud noises, or stressful situations A feeling of emotional distance and numbness or an inability to feel emotions These types of symptoms, sometimes accompanied by depression, physical symptoms of fatigue, headaches, and pain, in someone with a history of trauma strongly suggest PTSD.
PTSD is usually treated with a combination of medications to relieve anxiety and depression and psychotherapy. Three different types of psychotherapy may be used for PTSD: Cognitive therapy, which involves redirecting the thought process, behavioral therapy, which involves adapting behavioral responses to stressors and triggers, and exposure therapy, which involves helping an affected person face their fears and work through them. Sometimes a combination of these three types of therapy may be useful. The best choice of medication and psychotherapeutic approaches to PTSD varies from individual to individual and is best determined by a qualified professional who specialized in treating this disorder. Examples of so medications that can be used for PTSD include Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These pills are a type of antidepressant medicine, but are useful in those with PTSD. These can help you feel less sad, as well as curb anxiety symptoms. SSRIs include citalopram (Celexa), fluoxetine (such as Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil), and sertraline (Zoloft). Chemicals in your brain affect the way you feel. When you have or depression you may not have enough of a chemical called serotonin. SSRIs raise the level of serotonin in your brain. There are other medications that have been used with some success for PTSD, such as Buspirone (Buspar), and class of drugs called Benzodiazepines: ((such as diazepam (Valium), alprazolam (Xanax), and lorazepam (Ativan),)). Many of these drugs, such as benzodiazepines just mentioned, are potentially addictive and are not recommended for long term use. Please consult your doctor to see which medicine may be right for you. Although treatment can help veterans cope with symptoms of PTSD and readjust to their lives, research indicates that many veterans who may have PTSD do not seek the help they need. If you or someone you know is suffering with symptoms that may be due to PTSD, it is important to reach out to a qualified therapist, healthcare provider, or a military advisor for help. For more information about treatment for PTSD, you can call the PTSD information line at (802) 296-6300, or visit http://www.ncptsd.va.gov/ncmain/help/. Key points: – PTSD is diagnosed through a history of exposure to trauma and one or more symptoms that suggest PTSD – PTSD is treated with a combination of medications and psychotherapy – If you or someone you know is suffering from symptoms of PTSD, it is important to reach out for help Fast Facts: PTSD is a condition that may develop after a person experiences or witnesses a traumatic eventPeople who develop PTSD may experience symptoms, such as flashbacks, anxiety, nightmares, for weeks, months, or even years after the eventVeterans who were exposed to active combat are at high risk for PTSD.PTSD is not simply an emotional problem that can be overcome at will – research indicates that changes to the brain chemistry and function are also involved.Complications of PTSD can be serious and may include depression, substance abuse, and problems with family relations, job performance, and social interactionsSymptoms of PTSD can be relieved through treatment with medications and psychotherapy. For more information about PTSD and its treatment, visit http://www.ncptsd.va.gov/ncmain/help/. References: Hogue, et al, New Engl J Med. 2004; 351: 13-22 Richard A. Kulka et al., Trauma and the Vietnam War Generation: Report of Findings from the National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study (New York: Brunner/Mazel, 1990; ISBN 0-87630-573-7 Heirholzer R, Munson J, Peabody C, et al. Hosp Community Psychiatry. 1992; 43:816-820, August 1992. The National Center for PTSD. Available at: http://www.ncptsd.va.gov/ncmain/help/. Accessed May 28, 2007. 309.81 DSM-IV Criteria for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Available at: http://www.mental-health-today.com/ptsd/dsm.htm. Accessed May 28, 2007. Daniella D, Woodward C, Esquanazi J, et al. Comparison of comorbid physical illnesses among veterans with PTSD and veterans with alcohol dependence. Psychiatric Services. 2004, 55(1):82-85. Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Symptoms, Types and Treatment. Available at: http://www.helpguide.org/mental/post_traumatic_stress_disorder_symptoms_treatment.htm. Accessed May 28, 2007. Hoge CW, Terhakipain A, Castro CA, et al. Association of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder With Somatic Symptoms, Health Care Visits, and Absenteeism Among Iraq War Veterans. Am J Psychiatry, 2007. 164:150-153, Roca V, Freeman TW. Psychosensory symptoms in combat veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder. J neuropsychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2002;14:185-189. Neylan TC, Marmar CR, Metzler MA, et al. Sleep disturbances in the Vietnam generations: Findings from a national representative sample of male Vietnam veterans. Am J Psychiatry. 1998 155:929-933.Copyright 2007-11 MD Kiosk