What is treatment like?
There are many different types of therapy and medicine that can treat PTSD. Many Veterans say that treatment has helped them feel better and build stronger relationships with the people they care about. As you go through treatment, you’ll have fewer PTSD symptoms, and the symptoms you still have will be a lot easier to manage.
The most effective treatment for PTSD is trauma-focused therapy. “Trauma-focused” means that when you talk to your therapist, you’ll focus on your memory of the traumatic event and what it means to you.
Focusing on your memories may sound scary — especially if you’ve been trying not to think about them. But revisiting the event with the help of a professional you trust can help you feel better.
When you can walk through it with a trained professional, they have a way of making you look at it from all the angles, not just the one perception you have. For me, it allowed me to see things a little bit differently and a little clearer and make a little more sense of what happened that day.”
Reedy Hopkins (US Air Force, 1983-2011) shares how therapy helped him see things differently.
Your memory of the event will become less intense, so it won’t take up as much space in your mind — and you can focus on the things that matter to you.
SGT Andrew Reeves
US Army, 1999-2009
By reliving some of the scariest moments of my life when I was in Iraq, you learn that it’s there, but the intensity of the memory goes away.”
There are a few different types of trauma-focused therapy that can help you manage your PTSD symptoms. Learn more about the different types of therapy.
Some Veterans choose to take medicine to manage their PTSD symptoms. Here’s how medicine can help.
Certain chemicals in our brains, called serotonin and norepinephrine, help us manage stress. Some people with PTSD may not have enough of these chemicals. Medicines called SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) and SNRIs (selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors) help to raise the level of these chemicals in your brain, so you’ll feel better.
I really struggled with medication for a long time. That, to me, having to be on medication meant I was really broken, and I was really screwed up. So I would get on it and things would be better, and I would get off of it. Eventually I pushed through all of that and have since been able to lower my dosage of medication because I don’t need as much.”
Sherie Warner (US Army, 2001-2007) explains how hard it was for her to accept that she needed medicine to help her manage her PTSD symptoms.
Are you ready for treatment?
When it comes to getting help for PTSD, it can be easy to second guess yourself. Some days, you may feel like you can manage your PTSD symptoms on your own. At other times you may feel overwhelmed and think, “I can’t go on this way. I need help.”
So, when is the right time to start PTSD treatment? Clinical psychologist Ron Acierno might say it best. He tells his patients that if they wait until they feel ready, they might never get help.
If you’re feeling pain, you’re ready for treatment. If you can’t do the things you used to do before you served your country, you’re ready for treatment. If your freedom has been impinged, diminished, restricted because you fought for our freedom, you’re ready for treatment. Don’t wait until you feel ready.”
Ron Acierno. Clinical Psychologist
If PTSD symptoms are causing problems in your relationships or keeping you from doing the things you love, now is the best time to get help.
Many Veterans share similar questions and concerns when they first start PTSD treatment. Learn from PTSD treatment providers as they answer frequently asked questions about therapy and medicine.