Op-Ed - How can people with PTSD “get over it”?
By John Maulding
With the recent exit of many people from Ukraine – and knowing the losses they have encountered – it causes me to ask if any they are receiving any help for the mental wounds they have suffered.
Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is one of the more challenging disorders that I face as a substance abuse counselor. Unfortunately, about 50 percent of people receiving treatment for substance abuse meet the diagnostic criteria for PTSD, so the problem is spread much wider than just those impacted by war.
So how do people recover from PTSD? First, they acknowledge that the symptoms they are experiencing are indeed PTSD: nightmares, guilt, anxiety, fear, flashbacks, rage, avoidance, insomnia, and feeling emotionally frozen.
Second, they reach out for help.
Once people are receiving treatment for PTSD, they start to hear a lot from their mental health professional about “thinking better about yourself, others and the world”. This type of cognitive therapy then leads to exploring what makes the PTSD symptoms worse and what makes them better. Often, PTSD sufferers notice that being engaged in a hobby, connecting with friends, and practicing good self-care are helpful. At this point, most mental health professionals recommend becoming involved in a PTSD support group so that the #1 enemy of PTSD, isolation, can be dealt with.
As a person goes deeper into the treatment methods offered for PTSD, they are offered exposure therapy, where the troubling event/situation is faced in tiny doses until it becomes more manageable. Perhaps the most interesting treatment for PTSD is eye movement desensitization reprocessing (EMDR). It is incredibly hard to briefly describe EMDR, but suffice to say it involves some eye movement coupled with re-visiting the event/situation and reframing your beliefs about what happened, who is to blame, and who should have done better.
The important thing to know about EMDR is that it has a 77 percent success rate.
Treatment for PTSD is also marked by dealing with the problems that tend to get diagnosed alongside it, such as substance use disorder, anxiety and depression.
It is important for sufferers to know that “post-traumatic growth” is a real thing. Most people with PTSD do get better as they find treatment methods that work best for them.
Hope is indicated.
John Maulding is a state licensed counselor who specializes in substance use disorders. For more information visit www.mauldingcounseling.com