Just over a decade ago, most research showed PTSD to be an incurable condition (Benedek, Friedman, Zatzick, & Ursano, 2009) but evidence and research proves it is possible for PTSD to be successfully treated many years after the traumatic event occurred, which means it is never too late to seek help. Evidence suggests that around 70% of people who suffer with PTSD in the UK do not receive any professional help at all.
Traumatic events can be very difficult to come to terms with, but confronting and understanding your feelings and seeking professional help is often the only way of effectively treating PTSD.
Before having treatment for PTSD, a detailed assessment of your symptoms will be carried out to ensure treatment is tailored to your individual needs.
If you seek help through the NHS, your GP will often carry out an initial assessment, but it is likely you will be referred to a mental health specialist for further assessment and treatment if you have had symptoms of PTSD for more than four weeks or your symptoms are severe.
If you have mild symptoms of PTSD, or you have had symptoms for less than four weeks, an approach called watchful waiting may be recommended.
Watchful waiting involves carefully monitoring your symptoms to see whether they improve or get worse. Although frustrating, it is sometimes recommended because 2 in every 3 people who develop problems after a traumatic experience will get better without treatment within a few weeks.
If watchful waiting is recommended, you should have a follow-up appointment within one month.
If you have PTSD that requires treatment, psychotherapy is usually recommended first. A combination of treatments may be recommended If you have severe or persistent PTSD.
Psychotherapy is a type of therapy often used to treat emotional problems and mental health conditions such as PTSD, depression, anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder. It focuses on the PTSD experience. The aim is that you can`t change or forget the experience, but you can learn to think differently about what happened and lose the ‘emotional charge’ behind it.
The two main types of psychotherapy used to treat people with PTSD are:
Relaxing therapies such as yoga, massage and acupuncture can also help. Whilst these do not resolve PTSD these can help to alleviate some of the symptoms of hypervigilance, by teaching and helping you to relax and manage stress – there are some practical tips that can help in the meantime too.