Treatment Options for PTSD

by Suzanne Grosser

There are a variety of treatments for PTSD. Now that you know you have post traumatic stress disorder, you have choices to make. What is right for you? I don’t know. What worked for me, may not work for you. Each person’s experience of trauma is different. Each person has a unique combination of symptoms.

There is no one correct way to treat PTSD.

Try different options. Combine them. Toss out strategies that don’t work, or that have intolerable side-effects. You have to figure this out yourself. No one else knows better than you, what works for you. Sorry. There are no easy answers here, remember? But I do want to help, so I’ve grouped treatment options into four broad categories, based on how they make sense to me. (Hey, it’s my website)

Talk therapy comes in two flavors – individual therapy and group talk therapy. Individual is all about you – you, one on one, with a counselor. Group is well, a group – a group of trauma survivors, a family group: something bigger than you, a place to give and take.

Talk therapy plus is more than just words. It includes: Hypnosis, exposure therapy, somatic experiencing, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. EMDR, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. talk therapy plus.

Traditional medicine is standard western medicine. It is all about fixing what is broken. This includes medications to fix the messed up chemistry of your brain. It starts with your symptoms to provide quick relief.

Alternative medicine is not standard western medicine. Alternative medicine seeks to reunite the broken pieces of your body and spirit, to create a new, whole, you. It includes: acupuncture,eastern movement, prayer and meditation.

So how do you decide?

Start with what you know – the doctor you trust, a group formed by your employer or church. But don’t limit yourself. Look online or call your local health department for information on groups in your area, or counselors that specialize in PTSD.

If your medical insurance is paying your doctor, or if you are receiving disability, you will need to follow their rules – at least if you want them to pay the bills. So follow their rules and see their doctors. This is another good way to start. But decide for yourself what treatments are most effective for you. If something is not working for you, or making you worse, you can stop.

You have the right to do whatever it takes for you to get better.

Do it even if the charges come out of your pocket. Do it even if you they cut off your disability payments. Just realize, that is the price you pay. Your first priority is to get well. Don’t let anyone pressure you into choosing illness over health.

I quit my job because I was not safe there. I did not get unemployment. I did not get disability. It took over a year for me to find another full-time job. It was a tough year. I ate a lot of peanut butter & jelly sandwiches. But I knew I was taking the best care of myself that I possibly could. And that was more important to me than my empty bank account or trashed credit rating.

There are two goals in treating PTSD.

Goal #1 is to make you comfortable with yourself. The first breakthrough will be when you accept the way you are now. Whatever you have lost as a result of your trauma, is a loss you must now live with. You can never become a successful one-legged woman, until you admit that you are no longer a two-legged woman. You will keep falling on your face. The day you look down and accept that something is missing, is the day you start to move forward, to get the help you need to learn to walk again.

Goal #2 is to find or create the place in the world where you belong. Find a purpose for your life – otherwise, why bother with all this crap? You can sit there on the couch in front of the TV with your bowl of ice cream and watch other people travel the world, redecorate their homes, and fall in love. It’s safe there. Oh sure, your soul may be dying, but hey, try some of the butter pecan. It’ll make you feel better.

These are not the same goals that your doctor, employer, or insurance company will have for your treatment. Oh sure, it would be nice if you were happy, but honestly, they just want you to quit being so weird, stop being such a pain, and get back to business as usual. Too bad for them.

You’ve worked too hard to take this journey only halfway. By the time you complete goal # 1, you may not need a therapist anymore. You may go back to work. But you are not done healing. You are just beginning to building your new life.

You can do this. You can’t do it alone. You will need help – doctors, counselors, friends, strangers who’ve been through this, and might become your friends. You do need their help. But you can do it.

The most important treatment for post traumatic stress disorder is to take charge of your treatment. Learn as much as you can about the system. Trauma takes control of your life. In guiding your own recovery, you take control back.

That’s how you beat post traumatic stress disorder.

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