Treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

The main treatments for PTSD are psychological therapies and medication.

Psychological therapies

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

Medication is not helpful for most people with PTSD. But your doctor might offer you medication if:

  • You find it hard to sleep
  • You have another mental illness
  • You would prefer to avoid therapy

The most common medication for PTSD is antidepressants.

Self-help for PTSD

Living with PTSD might feel overwhelming. But there are things you can try to cope with flashbacks:

  • Focus on breathing – Concentrate on breathing slowly in and out while counting to 5
  • Find an object that reminds you where you are – Some people find it helpful to carry an object that reminds you that you are in the present, such as a keyring
  • Tell yourself that you’re safe – You could record phrases or write them down, to look at when you’re having a flashback
  • Comfort yourself – Do activities that make you feel calm and comfortable, like listening to music or watching your favourite TV programme

You can also take care of yourself through exercise, diet, daily routine, relationships and knowing how to recognise that you’re becoming unwell.

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