Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Medically reviewed by Carina Fung, PharmD, BCPPS

PTSD treatment

Receiving timely help and support after a traumatic experience may help prevent normal stress reactions from worsening and developing into PTSD. Oftentimes, this involves reaching out to family and friends for support and comfort. It may also mean seeking professional counseling while you learn to cope with your trauma.

That being said, some people are more predisposed than others to developing PTSD. When it does occur, PTSD can be isolating and overwhelming. It’s important to remember that you do not have to deal with this condition alone.

Treatment18 for PTSD generally begins with psychotherapy and may include medication. The goal is to help you manage your symptoms and regain a sense of control over your life. Psychotherapy, with or without medication, helps do the following:

  • Improve your thoughts and feelings about yourself, other people, and the world
  • Teach skills to address and manage your symptoms
  • Develop coping mechanisms if your symptoms arise again
  • Treat other problems that are often related to traumatic events, including depression, anxiety, or substance abuse

It is common for people with mental health conditions like PTSD to try a few different treatments or combinations of treatment before finding what works best for their symptoms.

Medications for PTSD

The most commonly studied medication for treating PTSD is antidepressants. These can help manage the emotional symptoms of PTSD, such as sadness, anxiety, anger, and feeling “numb.” Some medications may help treat other specific PTSD symptoms, such as difficulty sleeping and nightmares.

Some medications used to treat the symptoms of PTSD include:

  • Antidepressants: Antidepressants can help improve the symptoms of emotional distress, such as depression and anxiety. Two medications called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), sertraline (generic Zoloft) and paroxetine (generic Paxil), are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of PTSD.
  • 2nd-generation antipsychotics: The side effects of these medications, which include quetiapine19 (generic Seroquel, Seroquel XR) and risperidone20 (generic Risperdal M-TAB, Risperdal, Risperdal Consta), make them a less desirable option than SSRIs, However, there is evidence suggesting that these medications are especially helpful for war veterans living with PTSD.
  • Prazosin: Prazosin (generic Minipress) may help reduce or suppress nightmares. However, its efficacy has been contested, and research on the medication is ongoing.

PTSD medication

When starting you on a new medication, your provider will likely begin by prescribing a low dose and gradually increasing your dose until you reach one that works best for you.

May be prescribed

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Psychotherapy for PTSD

Psychotherapy, also called “talk therapy” or just therapy, involves meeting with a mental healthcare provider to discuss and develop strategies for coping with your symptoms. Effective psychotherapy generally stresses a few key components: namely, educating you about your symptoms, teaching skills to help identify what triggers them, and developing skills to help you manage them.

One effective form of therapy is called cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT. CBT may involve the following:

  • Exposure therapy: This involves gradually exposing a patient to the traumatic event in a safe environment. It can use imagining, writing about, or visiting the place where the trauma occurred. The aim of this method is to help people with PTSD face their fears and cope with their feelings.
  • Cognitive restructuring: This helps people with PTSD make sense of their negative memories. In some cases, people with this condition remember the traumatic event differently than how it actually happened. They may also feel guilt or shame about something that happened that wasn’t their fault or was out of their control. This approach helps the patient look at the event in a more realistic, objective manner.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1–800–273–8255 or text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741.

You may also reach out to the Samaritans: Call or text (877) 870-HOPE (4673).

Disclaimer: The information on this site is generalized and is not medical advice. It is intended to supplement, not substitute for, the expertise and judgment of your healthcare professional. Always seek the advice of your healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard seeking advice or delay in seeking treatment because of something you have read on our site. RxSaver makes no warranty as to the accuracy, reliability or completeness of this information.

If you are in crisis or you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.