PTSD: Treatment - Mental Health
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PTSD: Treatment

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PTSD

Treatment

No matter what you are experiencing, treatments and resources are available. VA offers treatment options that are proven to be very effective for most people, and many types of professionals at VA can help you to treat PTSD.  

Evidence-based therapies are among the most effective treatments for PTSD. They can include the following — which are in many cases available at a local VA medical center.

  • Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) helps Veterans to identify how traumatic experiences have affected their thinking, to evaluate those thoughts, and to change them. Through CPT, Veterans may develop more healthy and balanced beliefs about themselves others, and the world.
  • Prolonged Exposure (PE) helps Veterans to gradually approach and address traumatic memories, feelings, and situations. By confronting these challenges directly, Veterans may see PTSD symptoms begin to decrease.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Conjoint Therapy (CBCT) helps couples understand the effect of PTSD on relationships and can improve interpersonal communications. Veterans may also experience a change in thoughts and beliefs related to their PTSD and relationship challenges.

Explore more potential treatment options at VA by visiting the Learn About Treatment page.

SSRIs and SNRIs

PTSD may be related to changes in the brain that are linked to our ability to manage stress. Compared with people who don’t have PTSD, people with PTSD appear to have different amounts of certain chemicals (called neurotransmitters) in the brain. SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) and SNRIs (serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors) are types of antidepressant medication that are believed to treat PTSD by putting these brain chemicals back in balance. They do not work as well as trauma-focused psychotherapy, but they can be effective.

Four SSRIs/SNRIs are recommended for PTSD:

  • Sertraline (Zoloft)
  • Paroxetine (Paxil)
  • Fluoxetine (Prozac)
  • Venlafaxine (Effexor)

(Medications have two names: a brand name — for example, Zoloft — and a generic name — for example, sertraline.)

To receive medications for PTSD, patients need to meet with a provider who can prescribe the medications. Many different types of providers, including your family health care provider and some nurses and physician assistants, can prescribe SSRIs and SNRIs for PTSD. You and your provider can work together to determine which medication may be the most effective for you. Learn more about SSRIs and SNRIs and how they compare with psychotherapies.

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