3 Alternatives To Mood Altering Drugs For People Dealing With PTSD

If you're dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder, and you are hesitant about using pharmaceutical drugs that look to alter your mood and relieve the mental anguish, then you should consider alternative, non-drug related therapies. Below is a list of three popular therapies that you can investigate. A trained psychologist will help you through a series of psychological exercises aimed at relieving the damage of PTSD.

Prolonged Exposure Therapy

The idea behind prolonged exposure therapy is that the patient repeatedly relives a traumatic event, and in doing so they learn how to lessen the traumatic feelings associated with it. This is accomplished in two ways. The first step occurs in the office with a therapist. The traumatic event is recounted, out loud. The event is discussed over and over and the patient and therapist discuss the feelings associated with it. The goal is to remove some of the uniqueness of the original experience and negate it by analyzing it repeatedly. The second step occurs outside of the office. The therapist will discuss triggers or behaviors that cause the patient to relive the trauma. The patient is then instructed to purposely engage in those activities until they no longer create a negative emotion.

CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy)

Cognitive behavior therapy is a very popular form of therapy that has been used to treat everything from depression and alcoholism, to PTSD. During a CBT based therapy session, the therapist will analyze the patient's beliefs and how they are interfering with their day-to-day behavior. The goal is to allow the patient to understand how their unconscious emotions are driving their reactions to current stimuli. Once the patient is aware of why they react to situations in a certain way they can develop strategies with the psychologist on how to shift attitudes and behave differently.

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Therapy)

EMDR is one of the more unique therapy options. It is getting attention for its treatment of PTSD. The American Psychiatric Association has even remarked that this form of therapy is great for suffers who are not comfortable discussing their trauma with psychologists. This is a very important point to make because so many people who suffer from trauma are reluctant to discuss it, even with a trained psychologist. During an EMDR session, the trauma doesn't have to be verbalized. What will happen is that the psychologist will use their fingers, a pen, or some other object, and wave it back and forth rapidly in front of the patient's eyes. The patient is instructed to keep their eyes focused on the movement while thinking of the past traumatic event. They are then told to start thinking positive thoughts. The theory behind EMDR is still being debated, but the general idea is that negative experiences can become embedded in the neural pathways and associated with negative emotions. By recalling them, and distracting the mind with a secondary task (focusing the eyes with rapid movement), the brain can unlearn the negative emotion that is tied to memories of the event.

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