I know the frustration of trying things that have worked for others in your recovery from PTSD. I personally respond best to ACT (Acceptance and commitment therapy) and EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy). I have tried several others in the past for months at a time that haven’t made a dent in my recovery. DON’T GIVE UP! Because you may try one form and it doesn’t work doesn’t mean you will never be healed. You just need the right one that works for you, same as medication. Every person is unique, it’s hard to go through the ups and downs of PTSD but there is something that will work for YOU! I have compiled a list of trauma treatment options so you can have this list at a glance.
ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) – Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) offers a promising, empirically validated approach to the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other trauma related problems. ACT is a therapeutic method designed specifically to reduce experiential avoidance, it may be a treatment that is particularly suited for individuals with PTSD. The application of ACT to PTSD is described, and a case example is used to demonstrate how this therapy can be successfully used with individuals presenting for life problems related to a traumatic event.
BSP (Brainspotting) – Brainspotting is a relatively new type of therapy designed to help people access, process, and overcome trauma, negative emotions, and pain, including psychologically induced physical pain. Brainspotting has many features similar to EMDR. Once identified, the brainspot is stimulated by asking the client to hold the eye position while they focus on the sensory feeling of the problem or memory being explored. The experience of maintaining the eye position while fully engaged in recalling the sensations of the trauma or memory has the effect of de-conditioning previously conditioned physiological and emotional responses
CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) – Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) focuses on exploring relationships among a person’s thoughts, feelings and behaviors. During CBT a therapist will actively work with a person to uncover unhealthy patterns of thought and how they may be causing self-destructive behaviors and beliefs. By addressing these patterns, the person and therapist can work together to develop constructive ways of thinking that will produce healthier behaviors and beliefs.
DBT ( Dialectical behavior therapy) – Patients at first try to block out the memory of what happened and move on with their lives, but the aftermath of the event soon returns to haunt them in the form of PTSD symptoms. Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) can relieve both the recollection of the trauma and the PTSD it triggered. I like DBT because it helps ground me.
EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) – A healing method, Emotional Freedom Techniques (Tapping) release traumatic memories by using a combination of acupressure points, along with advanced psychological methods, to produce quick relief from even long-held distress. Used by millions of people, EFT has been proven successful in many scientific studies, and works on a variety of health concerns, psychological problems, and performance issues, even those that have been resistant to other methods.
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) – EMDR therapy is therapy for the entire spectrum of trauma. You can completely clear one event trauma in just a few sessions. The therapist works gently with the client and asks him/her to revisit the traumatic moment or incident, recalling feelings surrounding the experience, as well as any negative thoughts, feelings and memories. The therapist then holds her fingers about eighteen inches from the clients face and begins to move them back and forth like a windshield wiper. The client tracks the movements as if watching ping pong. The more intensely the client focuses on the memory, the easier it becomes for the memory to come to life. As quick and vibrant images arise during the therapy session, they are processed by the eye movements, resulting in painful feelings being exchanged for more peaceful, loving and resolved feelings. I have improved greatly in a short period of time doing EMDR.
Exposure Therapy – Exposure therapy is considered a behavioral treatment for PTSD. This is because exposure therapy targets learned behaviors that people engage in (most often the avoidance) in response to situations or thoughts and memories that are viewed as frightening or anxiety-provoking. By confronting feared situations, thoughts and emotions, a person can learn that anxiety and fear will lessen on its own.
Hypnotherapy – Hypnotherapy is a skilled verbal communication, used during hypnosis, which helps direct a client’s imagination in such a way as to bring about intended alterations in sensations, perceptions, feelings, thoughts and behaviour. In a typical hypnotherapy session, the hypnotherapist will ask the client questions about previous medical history, general health and lifestyle. The hypnotherapist and client will decide together on the changes or goals that are desired.
Medication – There are various types on medication that can be used to help treat PTSD in combination with therapy. Medications are nearly always used in conjunction with psychotherapy for PTSD, because while medications may treat some of the symptoms commonly associated with the disorder, they will not relieve a person of the flashbacks or feelings associated with the original trauma. Antidepressants are most commonly used but sometimes a Psychiatrist will prescribe anytipsychotics or benzodiazepines.
Mindfulness – There has been a lot of research in mindfulness meditation in the last decade. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction has been shown to be extremely effective in a relatively short period of time. It has shown to be helpful with anxiety, stress and depression, as well as chronic pain and illness. Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy is another evidence-based practice that uses mindfulness skills to help individuals cope with depressive symptoms and has recently been shown to help veterans with PTSD redu ce their symptoms. People who practiced mindfulness meditation about half an hour a day for 8 weeks saw a change in several brain structures related to learning, memory, emotion, and the fear response. These are all things that play a role in post-traumatic stress responses. Among parts of the brain impacted were the hippocampus and amygdala. After a mere 8 weeks, there was an increase in gray matter in these parts of the brain—the same part of the brain that sees a decrease after someone develops PTSD. So if PTSD is associated with a decrease in density in gray matter in the hippocampus and then there is increase in density after several weeks of practicing mindfulness, there is at least a basis for future research on how mindfulness can help reduce symptoms of PTSD.
Neurofeedback– Neurofeedback can help a person with PTSD get his or her life back. Research studies show that PTSD is a disorder of the brain. With PTSD, a severe stress response is triggered which leads to numerous disruptive symptoms. The challenge is to train the brain to turn off the stress response. Neurofeedback trains the brain to produce a calm state, as well as regulate the stress response. The specific areas of the brain affected by PTSD can also be targeted and trained to produce healthier patterns.
*Note: My go to book for understanding trauma treatment is: The Trauma Treatment Handbook Protocols Across the Spectrum by Robin Shapiro
I hope that will give you insight on treatments for PTSD, there is hope. Stay Strong