Cognitive-behavioral therapy and SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) are the most effective treatments for PTSD. Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) may also work. Some other kinds of counseling may be helpful in your recovery from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). But more evidence is needed to support these other treatments for PTSD.
Many people want to talk about their trauma with others who have had similar experiences.
In group therapy, you talk with a group of people who also have been through a trauma and who have PTSD. Sharing your story with others may help you feel more comfortable talking about your trauma. This can help you cope with your symptoms, memories, and other parts of your life.
Group therapy helps you build relationships with others who understand what you've been through. You learn to deal with emotions such as shame, guilt, anger, rage, and fear. Sharing with the group also can help you build self-confidence and trust. You'll learn to focus on your present life, rather than feeling overwhelmed by the past.
PTSD can impact your whole family. Your kids or your partner may not understand why you get angry sometimes, or why you're under so much stress. They may feel scared, guilty, or even angry about your condition.
Family therapy is a type of counseling that involves your whole family. A therapist helps you and your family communicate, maintain good relationships, and cope with tough emotions. Your family can learn more about PTSD and how it is treated.
In family therapy, each person can express his or her fears and concerns. It's important to be honest about your feelings and to listen to others. You can talk about your PTSD symptoms and what triggers them. You also can discuss the important parts of your treatment and recovery. By doing this, your family will be better prepared to help you.
You may consider having individual therapy for your PTSD symptoms and family therapy to help you with your relationships.
Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)
Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is another therapy for PTSD. Like other kinds of counseling, it can help change how you react to memories of your trauma.
While talking about your memories, you'll focus on stimuli like eye movements, hand taps, and sounds. For example, your therapist will move his or her hand near your face, and you'll follow this movement with your eyes. You'll also learn skills to help you relax and handle emotional distress.
Doctors think that focusing on hand movements or sounds while you talk about the traumatic event may help change how you react to memories of your trauma over time. But experts are still learning how EMDR works. EMDR may help you have fewer PTSD symptoms. But research also suggests that the eye movements are not a necessary part of the treatment.
EMDR may not be available at all clinics or hospitals.
For more information, see the topic Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Current as of: January 31, 2020
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Jessica Hamblen PhD - Post Traumatic Stress Disorder