From Trauma to Triumph: The Evolution of PTSD Treatment

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental disorder that can develop after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. It is estimated that approximately 8% of the US population will develop PTSD at some point in their lives. For years, PTSD has been a misunderstood and stigmatized disorder, often leaving those who suffer from it feeling alone and helpless. Fortunately, the evolution of PTSD treatment has progressed significantly over the years, offering hope and healing to those affected.

The treatment of PTSD has evolved significantly since it was first recognized as a diagnosable mental health condition. Initially, veterans returning from World War I were often deemed as having “shell shock” caused by traumatic events experienced on the battlefield. Treatment then mostly involved rest, time, and sometimes sedatives or opiates. However, it wasn’t until the Vietnam War that PTSD was first recognized as a formal disorder.

The first treatment of PTSD primarily focused on psychotherapy or “talk therapy.” This method aimed to help individuals manage their difficult emotions associated with their traumatic experience. Over the years, many different types of talk therapies have been developed, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), exposure therapy, and EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing). One therapy type that has gained significant attention in recent years is Neurofeedback Therapy. Similar to biofeedback, this technique involves measuring brainwave frequencies and reinforcing healthy brainwave patterns using visual and auditory feedback. Neurofeedback Therapy has shown to be effective in reducing PTSD symptoms as measured by the Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS).

In addition to traditional talk therapies, medication has also been incorporated into PTSD treatment. Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications have been proven effective in reducing anxiety, depression, and other symptoms of PTSD. Still, medication alone is not a long-term solution and should be incorporated with therapy.

Another newer development in PTSD treatment is the use of service animals, particularly dogs. Service dogs trained specifically to help veterans with PTSD are being used today to help mitigate the symptoms of the disorder. These dogs provide a sense of security and companionship for their handlers, assisting them when experiencing anxiety and panic attacks, interrupting nightmares, and helping individuals feel more at ease in social situations.

Families of those struggling with PTSD have also been impacted and recognized for their importance in the healing process. Family therapy is often included in PTSD treatment plans to help communicate with their loved ones about their feelings, experiences, and how they can best support each other.

PTSD has come a long way in terms of recognizing the disorder as a medically-recognized condition treatable through therapy, medication, and other therapies. Today, treatment continues to advance as research is conducted on new therapy types and approaches to alleviating PTSD symptoms. Although there is still progress to be made, with the ongoing evolution of PTSD treatment, those affected can find hope and healing.