The main treatments for PTSD are psychological therapies and medication.
Trauma-focused cognitive behavioural therapies (TF-CBT)
TF-CBT helps you to deal with your symptoms by helping you to change the way you think and behave. You may have to remember things that you find difficult to help you deal with your symptoms.
Eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR)
This involves making eye movements while thinking about the traumatic event. It helps your brain to reprocess the event and deal with the painful memories in a new way until the event becomes less vivid.
Medication is not typically offered to people with PTSD. However, your doctor may offer it if you find it hard to sleep, you live with another mental illness or if you’d prefer to avoid therapy.
Your doctor might offer you venlafaxine or a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) if you would prefer drug treatment. The treatment will need to be reviewed regularly.
You may be offered antipsychotic medication, such as risperidone at the same time as talking treatments. This may be offered if you have severe symptoms such as psychosis. The treatment will need to be reviewed regularly by a specialist.
Self-help for PTSD
There are things that you can do to manage your own PTSD, which is also known as self-care. When it comes to what helps people, everyone is different. You may need to try different lifestyle changes until you find what works for you. This include, but aren’t limited to:
- Learning ways to relax such as listening to relaxing music or free meditation playlists or videos online
- Practising mindfulness and meditation. You can find out more here: mindful.org/meditation/mindfulness-getting-started
- Eating healthy foods , having a balanced diet and drinking enough water. You can find out nutritional advice here: nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well
- Keep physically active. Exercise can help to reduce stress and anxiety. It can increase the levels of serotonin and endorphins which are your body’s natural ‘happy’ chemicals. You can find out more here: weareundefeatable.co.uk.
- Keeping a daily routine. Routines can help you to keep your mind occupied and focused on healthy thoughts and activities.
- Having healthy relationships. You can find more tips on how to maintain healthy relationships here: mentalhealth.org.uk/sites/default/files/guide-investing-relationships-may-2016.pdf
- Getting enough sleep. Without regular sleep, your mental health can be affected. You can find out more about improving your sleep by clicking rethink.org/advice-and-information/living-with-mental-illness/wellbeing-physical-health/sleep/.
- Being aware of your alcohol intake. Unhealthy drinking habits can lead to poor mental health. Some people use alcohol to deal with their emotions. This is called ‘self-medication.’ If you recognise that you do this, you could avoid alcohol or cut down. Try a different coping technique to help you manage how you feel. You should also consider the effect of alcohol on any medication you take. You may need professional help to do this and can ask your doctor if you need more information.
- Avoiding smoking or cutting down. Smoking can affect your medication and your health. If you are not sure how your medication is affected speak to your doctor.
- Keeping a mood diary. This can improve awareness of your symptoms and what makes you feel better and worse. You can simply use a notebook, or you may want to try online resources or smartphone apps like MoodPanda, Daylio or Evernote.
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