Post-traumatic stress disorder – therapy for PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder - therapy for PTSD

Therapy concepts

Even if the acute stress reaction is not a disorder in the narrower sense, many of those affected need temporary support. Lay people such as partners, family, or friends are often enough to make the situation more bearable and process it.

In any case, PTSD should be treated so that the person affected can find their way back to everyday life.


What is done in the event of an acute stress reaction?

In the case of major disasters and accidents, psychologically trained first-aiders are often available to support those affected, talk to them, and help them cope with the acute situation by providing information and advice.

Within one to three days of the event, a professionally guided group debriefing session can be scheduled for primary victims (e.g., passengers after a hijacking) or secondary victims (e.g., relatives of occupants after a plane crash).

In Germany, special crisis management teams also help those affected with pronounced symptoms individually. However, the effectiveness of such routine, systematized psychological support and, in particular, the debriefing is discussed controversially in many specialist publications, and some experts even classify it as rather harmful.

Acute sleep disorders and anxiety can be relieved for a short time by medication (benzodiazepines, hypnotics ).

Psychotherapeutic treatment of PTSD

The treatment of PTSD as so-called trauma therapy rests primarily on two pillars: psychotherapy and drug treatment.

Psychotherapy aims to ensure that the person concerned remembers the triggering situation, processes it and accepts it as part of their biography. Individual and group therapy procedures, outpatient crisis interventions and inpatient (short-term) stays are available. In the case of longer-term PTSD, behavioural therapy is used by specially trained therapists or in specialized facilities.

A helpful procedure developed at the end of the 1980s is EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, “guided eye movements”). The biofeedback method has also proven to be effective. Relaxation techniques are also used.


Drug treatment of PTSD

Drug treatment is primarily used as a supportive measure; often, the person concerned first needs pills to be accessible at all for psychotherapy. It is primarily used to treat anxiety, sleep disorders and hyperexcitability.

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